WORCESTERSHIRE'S batting woes continued as they were bowled out for just 186 on the first afternoon at Northamptonshire in County Championship Division Two.

Brett Hutton took 6-57 to help the hosts at Wantage Road before Alex Wakely and Rob Keogh shared a century stand for the third wicket as Northants then replied with 140-3.

Hutton’s first five wickets came in the opening 50 minutes as he shot out the visitors’ out-of-form top order.

But from 108-8 just after lunch Joe Leach made a 38-ball 50 to help cobble something together for the County after choosing to bat first.

County coach Alan Richardson said: “Full credit to Northants they bowled really well and then backed it up with the bat.

"The two opening bowlers bowled testing lengths and it was an impressive first session from them.

“It’s a used wicket so we thought it was best to bat first but we didn’t get through that first session.

“We take great pride in batting all the way down and added useful runs in the end and we were disappointed not to score even more but it was still a really good effort to get to 186 from 30-6.”

Twice Hutton was on a hat-trick as he claimed his eighth first-class five-wicket haul on a breezy day in Northampton.

He began with a perfect delivery that moved away to flick the off bail of Championship debutant Jack Haynes for a golden duck and soon trapped Callum Ferguson (1) lbw shuffling across his stumps but only after Daryl Mitchell was caught out for two off Ben Sanderson.

Alex Milton nicked a lifter to wicketkeeper Adam Rossington for another golden duck and although Riki Wessels survived the hat-trick ball and sliced an edge at catchable height between third and fourth slips he soon fell for six lbw to Hutton.

Next delivery Ben Cox edged to Rob Keogh at third slip for a third golden duck but in his next over Moeen Ali kept out Hutton’s second hat-trick ball of the morning.

Moeen’s return was unconvincing. Short of form this summer, he looked unsure, driving loosely and twice in successive balls from Hutton, on 12 and 16, should have been held behind the wicket.

He also drove in the air through cover before eventually slapping Nathan Buck to extra-cover.

Although 42 may look reasonable on the card in terms of playing himself back into form this knock would have counted for little.

By contrast Ed Barnard looked assured, leaving the ball well and surviving 79 deliveries for a composed 27 before he dragged Dwaine Pretorius into his stumps.

His was the second wicket to fall after lunch after Hutton struck again just after the break, finding the outside edge of Wayne Parnell whose chancy 30 was ended by Rob Keogh’s catch.

But from 108-8 Worcestershire added useful runs, including a 52-run stand for the 10th wicket.

Leach led the progress making a merry, unbeaten 53 by playing positive but never reckless strokes.

Josh Tongue provided competent company in making 20 before edging Nathan Buck to first slip.

In reply, Rob Newton dragged Tongue into his stumps for two and Ben Curran was given out lbw to Parnell for 10 but replays suggested the ball would have missed leg stump and was possibly high too.

But Wakely and Keogh ensured Northants ended the first day firmly on top.

Wakely skipped down the wicket to lift Moeen over long-on for six and turned Leach through square-leg for a sixth four to reach 50 in 101 balls. He went to the close on 63 not out.

Keogh drove Leach through the covers to raise the half-century stand and punched Moeen past extra-cover before competing his own 50 in 60 balls.

But with six overs remaining in the day he went to work Parnell through mid-wicket and got a leading edge that was sharply held by Mitchell at second slip.

It rewarded a sustained period of pressure from Parnell and Moeen and forced Buck to come out as nightwatchman to see out the day.

He got within three balls of doing so before ducking into a bouncer from Tongue, forcing play to a marginally premature end.