After finally breaking their duck in the Clydesdale Bank 40, Northamptonshire went into this week’s LV= County Championship match against Yorkshire aiming to get back to winning ways in the four-day game.
Anyone who believes in omens may think that the match starting on ‘Yorkshire Day’, as August 1 is celebrated as in that part of the world, would have pointed to that as perhaps favouring the visitors to the County Ground.
However, it could be argued that the same applies to Northants interim head coach David Ripley, who originally hails from Leeds. One suspects that being the classic no-nonsense Yorkshireman, he doesn’t believe in that sort of thing though.
Besides, Ripley has more pressing issues to worry about with injuries to some of his side’s key players again slightly restricting options – particularly in the bowling department where Jack Brooks was again forced to miss out with a back injury.
The talented seamer did have the small consolation of being awarded his county cap, along with Alex Wakely, during the lunch break of on day one yesterday, but otherwise had to sit and watch.
His absence saw promising youngster Olly Stone handed his first class debut and he made an immediate impact, claiming the wicket of England Lions batsman Joe Root with his first ball of the day after coming on as first change.
The bigger picture is that a win for Northamptonshire in this contest would see them close the gap significantly on their opponents, who currently occupy the second and last promotion place in Division Two.
The division’s fifth-placed side will also hope that runaway league leaders Derbyshire and Gloucestershire can do them a favour against Kent and Hampshire respectively, with the latter two also vying for promotion.
Northants went into the game on the back of their first win of the season in the limited overs CB40 competition, soundly defeating the Unicorns by eight wickets at the idyllic Wormsley ground last Sunday.
Although the Steelbacks can no longer qualify from Group C for the semi-finals, the result will have been a confidence boost nonetheless. Their next CB40 game is under the floodlights at home to Yorkshire Carnegie a week today.