County Cricket - Ripley eager to see the seconds develop

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David Ripley is looking forward to watching the development of the Northamptonshire Second XI this year.

The announcement of the upcoming season’s fixtures earlier this week – the County open their competitive programme with a Championship and Trophy double-header at Worcester – has sharpened the focus to some degree.

And Ripley, who combines the two roles of second team coach with that of Academy Director, is keen to get started.

He said: “We’ve got a number of talented young players who have been on an upward spiral over the past couple of years and we want to keep that going.

“It’s exciting seeing these lads coming through and pushing for opportunities and showing that they can perform.

“There will be plenty of chances there for these players if they keep progressing and that is our aim.”

With playing staffs considerably smaller than they were just a few years ago, and incentives in place for counties to field sides containing more younger cricketers, there are the means for young players to rise quickly through the ranks.

And Ripley believes he has a handful under his tutelage who are worth keeping an eye on.

He added: “We’ve got Christian Davis and Ryan Findlay playing abroad this winter and there is Rob Keogh looking to force his way on to a contract.

“Ollie Stone has developed rapidly in all areas and we’re hopeful that he can come through because he has all the talent.

“Vicram Sohal and Ben Duckett are both involved with England Under-17s so things are looking good at that level.”

As for the cricket, these players and those who aren’t in the first team, can expect to be playing in what, Ripley feels is a well-balanced schedule.

There are nine Championship matches, the same number of one-day Trophy games and a Twenty20 competition which consists of a minimum of eight group outings.

In addition, the County have four two-innings friendlies and Ripley reckons there is enough cricket to get their teeth into.

“Some counties stick to the bare minimum, which is their prerogative, but the ECB offer incentives to to play more games and we like to do that,” he said.

“It gives us the chance to look at more players in a competitive environment, which is a good thing. And when you add in the Academy games in the league there is a lot of cricket there.”

The County will also join forces with their Yorkshire counterparts to face Kent, something that has been used before and one Ripley thinks is a good idea.

He continued: “It’s become an annual event that has worked well and we want to keep it going.

“It gives six players who are near the first team a chance to play a decent game against good opposition, so it is well worth doing.”