Northamptonshire Season Preview 2024

Northamptonshire Season Preview 2024

Despite signing off with a win by an innings against the Division One runners up Essex in the last game of the season, 2023 was a summer to forget for Northamptonshire. They were heading to relegation by the halfway point and fared little better in the white ball competitions, finishing sixth in their group in both the Blast and the One Day Cup. John Sadler, who has been Head Coach since the end of the 2021 season, has been reported as ascribing one of the factors behind their relegation as being the batters trying to emulate England’s Bazball approach.

Batting failures were reflected in just 10 batting bonus points, but whatever the reason, Northants were well off the pace. Rob Keogh was the top run scorer in the Championship with 780 at 39.00, with their overseas signing Sam Whiteman making 719 runs at 37.84. They have re-signed two Indian batters, the first, Karun Nair returning after a successful contribution at the end of last season, where he scored 249 runs in three innings. He will play the first block of Championship fixtures and then Prithvi Shaw steps in, having impressed in the Metro Bank competition last year, scoring 429 runs in four innings before suffering a knee injury that cut short his stay.

Too many of Northants more experienced players failed last summer, Lewis McManus averaging just 12.33 in the Championship and Ricardo Vasconcelos 19.45. Captain Luke Procter will also be hoping for a better season having scored just 480 runs at 30.00. They have signed middle order batter George Bartlett, hoping the 25-year-old will be able to kick on from the start he has made at Somerset, having scored over 2500 first class runs.

One success was Jack White, the pace man taking 50 championship wickets at 25.58. The 32-year-old only made his first class debut in 2020, having been plucked from league cricket. Ben Sanderson took 32 wickets at 24.68, but none of the other bowlers reached 20 wickets. They will be backed up for the first four rounds of Championship games by this year’s top wicket-taker in the Sheffield Shield, Chris Tremain. He is another returnee, having taken 13 wickets in three games in early 2023, but unfortunately he cannot stay longer because of visa restrictions.

The pace options will also be boosted by the signing of George Scrimshaw from Derbyshire. The 6′ 7″ tall bowler has shown he can bowl at good pace and made his England debut in an ODI against Ireland last September. He has had serious injuries to his back that has required three operations and has played predominantly in the short formats. He has an excellent T20 record and is part of the Welsh Fire squad for this season’s Hundred. The hope is Scrimshaw will also be able to contribute to the red ball efforts.

Northants have signed Pakistan born, Zimbabwe international Sikandar Raza for the Blast. Raza is likely to be an unfamiliar name to Northants fans as this is the 37-year-old all rounder’s first foray into county cricket. However he is well travelled, having played for 17 different sides in his career and is available following Zimbabwe’s failure to qualify for the T20 World Cup. He bowls off-spin and was most recently involved in the Pakistan Super League where he had mixed fortunes, scoring just 91 runs from eight innings and taking three wickets with an acceptable economy rate of 8.38. He is currently ranked sixth in the ICC men’s T20 all-rounder world rankings.

David Willey will lead the T20 side, but they will be without club stalwart, Josh Cobb, who left following his replacement as captain. He is joined at Worcestershire by all-rounder Tom Taylor. Another player departing is Gareth Berg, who spent the last three of his 16 year professional career at Northants. His appearances were limited last season, but the 42-year-old is active with his adopted Italy.

Behind the scenes, batting coach Ben Smith left the club and has been replaced by Greg Smith, while bowling coach, Chris Liddle has also departed to take up a similar role with the England women’s team.

Key player

Rob Keogh made his Northants debut in 2012 and since then has played 124 first class matches. He was the club’s top scorer in the Championship last season and given the batting struggles last season, it will be important that he maintains that form this summer. He has also developed into a more than useful off spinner, with 142 first class wickets to his name. He was the preferred spin option in the Championship last year, taking 14 wickets and will have more bowling to do this summer following the retirement of Simon Kerrigan.

One to watch

The obvious place to look for emerging talent is the One Day Cup, but there were no standout performances from the youngsters. If we think genetics has any influence on prospects, 21-year-old James Sales, son of Northants legend David Sales, will be someone to keep an eye on. The 21-year-old all rounder played for England under 19s at the 2022 World Cup and has already appeared for Northants in 12 first class games and 16 List A matches. He has been most productive in the 50-over format, scoring 207 runs at 34.50, but also has three first class half centuries. Hopefully he will be able to push on this summer.

Overseas signings: Prithvi Shaw (India, from June), Chris Tremain (Australia, until 29 April), Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe, for T20), Karun Nair (India, for first seven Championship games)

Ins: George Scrimshaw (Derbyshire), George Bartlett (Somerset)

Outs: Tom Taylor (Worcestershire), Josh Cobb (Worcestershire), Gareth Berg (retired), Simon Kerrigan (retired), Hassan Azad (released), Harry Gouldstone (released), Ollie Sale (released)

How will they fare: It is difficult to imagine Northants playing as poorly as they did last season and if the Indian overseas pair are as prolific with the bat as in 2023, they will just need a few of the other batters to contribute around them. The bowling looks a little lightweight, with Tremain only around for a short period, so Championship wins might be hard to come by. Success in the white ball competitions could also be a little way off. However, Northants have a habit of creating upsets as they showed against Essex.

Opening fixture: CC vs Sussex on April 5 at The 1st Central County Ground, Hove

Season Odds (SkyBet):

County Championship – 11/2

T20 Blast – N/A

One-Day Cup – N/A


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