2018 county cricket previews: Northamptonshire
In partnership with the Cricketers’ Who’s Who, here’s Wisden’s profile of Northamptonshire for 2018.
HOME GROUND: County Ground, Northampton
ONE-DAY NAME: Northamptonshire Steelbacks
CAPTAIN: Alex Wakely
2017 RESULTS: CC2: 3/10; RL50: 8/9 North Group; T20: 6/9 North Group
HONOURS: Gillette/NatWest/C&G/FP Trophy: (2) 1976, 1992; Benson & Hedges Cup: 1980; T20 Cup: (2) 2013, 2016
Northants won nine Championship games in 2017 – and still missed out on promotion. Ultimately they were separated from second-placed Nottinghamshire by the five-point penalty incurred for a slow over-rate at, ironically, Trent Bridge. This should not cloud a hugely encouraging Championship campaign. Five seamers took more than 30 wickets at an average in the low-20s.
Runs were also spread evenly. The T20 campaign was a failure by the county’s high standards, the Steelbacks falling one victory short of making the quarter-finals. The less said about the One-Day Cup the better (Richard Levi – 305 runs at 61 – apart). The club have signed two established cricketers in Ben Hutton and Luke Procter, and Sri Lankan spinner Seekkuge Prasanna returns for T20.
Kiwi all-rounder Doug Bracewell will cover for Rory Kleinveldt until May. Ben Duckett’s misdemeanour on the Lions’ winter tour seem to have frozen his England prospects, which is to Northants’ gain, although he will miss the start of the season with a finger injury. The effervescent Muhammad Azharullah departs after four seasons in which he has been a crucial member of two T20-winning sides.
IN: Brett Hutton (Notts), Luke Procter (Lancs), Doug Bracewell (NZ), Seekuge Prasanna (SL, T20), Ricardo Vasconcelos (SA, Portuguese passport)
OUT: Muhammad Azharullah (released), David Murphy (retired)
Head coach: David Ripley
A Northamptonshire stalwart, Ripley led the club to their maiden T20 title in 2013 – their first trophy in two decades – and repeated the trick in 2016. In a 17-year playing career Ripley scored over 10,000 runs for the county with more than 1,000 dismissals as a wicketkeeper. After retiring in 2001 he became Northants 2nd XI coach before his promotion in 2012. David Sales, the former captain who scored more than 22,000 runs for Northants, has been appointed batting coach.
RL50: 5/9 North Group
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