Vitality County Championship – Match Preview: Northamptonshire v Glamorgan

Vitality County Championship – Match Preview: Northamptonshire v Glamorgan

The bowlers will be hoping for a bit more assistance at the County Ground this week.

The Kookaburra ball was not getting rave reviews in Northampton in the last round as 1105 runs were scored between the Northants and Middlesex batters, for the loss of just eight wickets. The use of the Dukes ball will move the balance of power, but hopefully spin is not sidelined completely. The Glamorgan batters have also had a productive start to the season and despite the ball change, neither bowling attack is to be feared.

Justin Broad was the one Northants batter to miss out in the Middlesex game and he has scored just 28 runs in three innings so far this season. Northants have struggled to find a partner for Emilio Gay, particularly following the loss of form of Ricardo Vasconcelos and Broad is not an opener by choice. Gay scored 261 against Middlesex and the middle order is strong with Luke Procter, Karun Nair and Rob Keogh. James Sales, son of Northants legend David, replaced George Bartlett in the starting XI for the Middlesex game and rewarded his coach with a maiden first class century.

The Northants bowlers put down 138 overs in the Middlesex innings with little reward. Australian pace bowler Chris Tremain has two more matches before he returns home and will be looking to add to the one wicket he has taken in the two games so far. Ben Sanderson is the main threat, with their most successful performer from last season Jack White, unavailable due to injury. The good news is George Scrimshaw, currently playing in a second XI match, will be back. Ex-Leicestershire left arm seamer, Michael Finan has been signed as cover, but went for 72 runs in his nine overs at Hove and was replaced by 19-year-old Raphael Weatherall, making his debut in the Middlesex game. The spin duo of Rob Keogh and Saif Zaib bowled 53 overs in the Middlesex innings and will likely be bowling a few overs again this week.

Glamorgan’s hopes of a victory in the last round were thwarted by the pitch at Sophia Gardens, with it turning into a feather bed on days three and four. The Glamorgan attack is lacking in bite, exacerbated by the rapid softening of the Kookaburra ball. Mason Crane had a productive first innings, taking 4/60, but he was unable to maintain pressure on the batters when conditions changed and bowled too many poor deliveries that became easy pickings. He went for 91 off his 17 second innings overs, without a wicket and unfortunately this has been a recurring theme for the leg spinner over his career. The pick of the Glamorgan bowlers was James Harris, with perhaps his best performance since returning to Glamorgan. He was back to the nagging accuracy of his younger days and finished the game with 5/52.

Unfortunately Glamorgan’s sick bay is filling up. Eddie Byrom is out following a dislocated shoulder preseason and Timm van der Gugten has a calf injury. In the Derbyshire game Jamie McIlory fell heavily on his shoulder when fielding on day one and did not take any further part in the game. This follows the return of Craig Miles to Warwickshire and leaves Glamorgan shopping around for another stand in pace bowler. With the hectic schedule over the first two months of the season injuries seem to be hitting counties and resources could be stretched.

The Glamorgan batting looks strong, with Billy Root coping surprisingly well in his new role at the top of the order. He will be tested a little more this week with the extra movement of the Dukes ball. Sam Northeast fell back to earth following his record breaking efforts at Lords, but Kiran Carlson, Colin Ingram and Chris Cooke were all in the runs.

Even with the Dukes ball, given the placid batting conditions encountered in the previous game at Northampton, the bowling attacks might find it difficult to dismiss either side twice.

Key players:

Ben Sanderson has been at Northamptonshire since 2015, when he moved from Yorkshire. The 35-year-old seamer has been a consistent performer and he played his 100th first class game against Middlesex. So far he has taken 362 wickets at just 22.37 and is essential to Northants being able to win this game.

Dan Douthwaite has promised much, particularly in white ball cricket, but failed to establish himself at the top table. He has earned a reputation as a hard hitting batter, but has been in and out of the Glamorgan red ball side. He appears to be caught in two minds when batting, tending to be overly cautious and never looking quite at ease. With the ball he can also be erratic, but has the ability to extract that extra bit of pace and bounce. If he is on song he can be a handful with bat and ball.

Team News:

Scrimshaw will likely replace Weatherall. It remains to be seen how long Broad will be left at the top of the order. Jack White is unlikely to return until early May.

Northamptonshire squad (probable): Luke Procter (c), George Bartlett, Justin Broad, Michael Finan, Emilio Gay, Rob Keogh, Lewis McManus (wk), Karun Nair, Alex Russell, James Sales, Ben Sanderson, George Scrimshaw, Chris Tremain, Saif Zaib

Glamorgan need to find a replacement to cover the loss of McIlory and Miles and this would be Andy Gorvin from within the squad, although he bowls at gentle medium pace. Ben Morris is quicker, but has only played two List A matches. The likelihood is that another loan player will be brought in unless van der Gugten is fit to return.

Glamorgan squad (probable): Sam Northeast (c), Kiran Carlson, Chris Cooke (wk), Mason Crane, Dan Douthwaite, Andy Gorvin, Mir Hamza, James Harris, Colin Ingram, Ben Morris, Billy Root, Asa Tribe, Zain ul-Hassan

Weather and Conditions:

The current forecast is for a dry if not particularly warm first three days with showers coming in on day four.

The captain winning the toss will likely want to bowl first but, even with the Dukes ball, the expectation is for the bat to rule the roost against the bowling attacks on show.

Date: 19 – 22 April 2024

Time: 11:00

Ground: County Ground, Northampton


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