2019 proved to be a memorable campaign for Northamptonshire, but you would have had long odds on them ending their five year absence from the first division of the County Championship. In early June, they had been thrashed by an innings and 143 runs by Glamorgan, and Alex Wakely stood down as captain in all formats.
Adam Rossington took over as red ball captain and oversaw a remarkable turnaround, that brought five wins in the last seven matches and a second placed finish. Ben Sanderson was undoubtedly the star of the show, taking 60 wickets in the season and producing a key performance in the home victory over Durham that sealed promotion.
Another highlight was the majestic 134 by Temba Bavuma on a tough Chesterfield wicket, which helped wrap up a 72 run victory that swung the season.
The white ball competitions, so often the focus for Northants, took a back seat. They rarely threatened in the One-Day Cup, and they were left to rue poor batting collapses and bad luck along with the weather in the T20 Blast.
The 2020 season looked to be hugely exciting for Northants, with the county expected to prove more competitive than their previous trip to the First Division, in which they lost 12 of their 16 fixtures, in 2014.
There have been some eye catching signings for the T20 Blast and there will be crossed fingers that Kieron Pollard is able to play his part. The West Indian captain was a key reason that Somerset made successive T20 finals in 2010 and 2011.
Northants have also captured Paul Stirling from Middlesex and this looks to be an astute piece of business, with Stirling being one of the most consistent performers in the T20 Blast.
Having lifted the trophy in 2013 and 2016 Northants have failed to progress to the knockout stages in the last three seasons, and these signings show an intent that David Ripley wants the trophy back at Wantage Road in 2020.
Faheem Ashraf has been re-signed and is, at time of writing, due to be the overseas for the early part of the summer in the County Championship.
Other acquisitions include the permanent signing of Gareth Berg, who joined from Hampshire on loan at the end of last season, and 22-year old Netherlands fast bowler Brandon Glover. He is close friends with Ricardo Vasconcelos, and those two could be the young players to look out for Northants in 2020.
One person who won’t be at Wantage Road this summer regardless of when the season kicks off is Phil Rowe. A servant of 15 years through good times and bad as bowling coach, Rowe retired in September and has been replaced by former Gloucestershire and Sussex bowler Chris Liddle.