CONOR McKerr picked up a maiden five-wicket haul in only his second first-class match but Derbyshire ended the first day of their Specsavers County Championship match only even against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.
McKerr, the 19-year-old on loan from Surrey, took 5-87 as Derbyshire bowled Northamptonshire out for 218 but they then struggled to 153-6 at the close, trailing by 65.
There was also concern for Derbyshire as Luis Reece left the field in the morning session complaining of breathlessness and was taken to Kettering General Hospital, where he was kept in overnight.
Derbyshire arrived buoyed by a near-miss at Trent Bridge and, with McKerr to add an edge to their attack, hurried Northants away from 134-3, when Rob Newton and Ben Duckett were going well in a stand of 78 for the fourth wicket.
A well-timed off-side push brought Newton a fourth Championship 50 of the summer in 83 balls with seven fours. Only later in the day did his 67 realise it’s true value.
Duckett, returning from England Lions duty, also looked full of confidence but it was Tony Palladino who found the breakthrough to begin the collapse.
Duckett dragged a cover drive into his stumps on 36 and Newton followed three overs later to the same bowler, edging to wicketkeeper Daryn Smit. Palladino also removed Nathan Buck to finish with 3-45.
Before Buck’s wicket, McKerr – who removed Alex Wakely and Rob Keogh before lunch – returned to have Josh Cobb splendidly held in the gully by Alex Hughes and picked up a fourth wicket with Ben Sanderson held in the gully.
Chesney Hughes, trying to pull a long hop from Wayne Madsen, got a miserable top-edge to extra cover but Rory Kleinveldt lifted two sixes over point and a third over midwicket as Northants limped to a first batting point.
Kleinveldt was last man out, miscuing a pull taken by Smit to hand McKerr a first five-wicket haul.
“It’s a great feeling, we bowled well as a unit and I’m really happy,” he said.
“The wicket was a little slower than we originally thought but did offer some sideways movement.
“We definitely thought their score was below par at the time but now we need to fight hard and then go again with the ball.”
Northants responded well with the ball through Sanderson and Buck to reduced the visitors to 108-6 before Alex Hughes battled to an unbeaten half-century.
Sanderson struck with the first ball of the Derbyshire reply, trapping makeshift opener Jeevan Mendis lbw, and, in his second spell, produced an edge from Gary Wilson that was taken at the second attempt by wicketkeeper Ben Duckett.
He then got one that came back in to remove Daryn Smit lbw for four.
In between, there were two poor strokes – Billy Godleman driving loosely and presenting an edge to Alex Wakely at second slip off Rory Kleinvelt and Shiv Thakor, who made a quick 45 including seven fours, flashing outside off stump and getting a thin edge to Duckett.
Thakor’s wicket was the first of the game for Buck, who followed up with an lbw against Madsen.
But a stand of 43 between Hughes – who went past 50 in 83 balls with five fours – and Taylor, who ate up 47 balls for his seven not out, battled Derbyshire back into the game.