Jon Dunham - Copeland loss will be felt but County are in good shape

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

There is no doubt that Trent Copeland’s return to Australia early next week will leave a gaping hole in the Northamptonshire squad.

When it was announced that the seamer would be coming to Wantage Road for the start of the new season, there was a real sense of anticipation in the air.

And those who were expecting great things from him have not been disappointed.

His displays with the ball have been exceptional and have played a big part in what has been a superb start to the season in both four-day and one-day formats.

It was always the case that he would be returning home after this week’s Championship clash with Worcestershire and for David Ripley and his staff, the task will be how they try to replace him while he is gone.

As always, situations like this create opportunities and there will be a chance for someone to come in and fill the big boots of Copeland.

But perhaps the most positive thing is that while the Australian has been in sparkling form, he isn’t the only one.

The likes of David Willey, Andrew Hall and, in particular, Steven Crook have all performed well with the ball so far this season. There will, no doubt, be added pressure on them to keep that up.

The good news about Copeland is that there remains a chance he could return to Northants later in the summer.

Chief executive David Smith told the Northamptonshire Telegraph this week that discussions are likely to take place in the near future and that the County will be looking to bring the bowler back towards the end of August for the Championship run-in.

That would, of course, be most welcome and would undoubtedly give Ripley and his side an even better chance to earn promotion, something that doesn’t look out of the question by any stretch of the imagination.

Copeland’s arrival and form has only added to what seems to be a much happier camp at Wantage Road this season.

Of course, there is no better way to lift the spirits than to win games. But there does seem to be a real sense of togetherness, something that might not have always existed in recent years.

No-one will get carried away and the task of covering that bowling slot while Copeland returns home will be key to their chances.

But it is certainly a case of so far, so good.