County set to stay the same for Leicestershire clash

Northamptonshire director of cricket David Ripley
Northamptonshire director of cricket David Ripley
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Northamptonshire are likely to name an unchanged side for their LV= County Championship match at Leicestershire this weekend – despite some heroic displays in the Second XI.

It will probably be the same 11 that took on Gloucestershire in the first match that takes to the field when play gets under way on Sunday.

If selection issues were tough before the opening encounter, they are likely to be even harder now with both Steven Crook and Kyle Coetzer – absentees for the Gloucestershire game – putting in big performances for the ‘stiffs’.

Coetzer has made 250 and 115 – both unbeaten – in the last week or so while Crook has shone with bat and ball.

However, stability is the name of the game for director of cricket David Ripley – at least for the time being.

“I certainly don’t envisage any changes too soon,” he said. “We’ve had a week off from the last match so we don’t need to look at anything physically.

“Kyle and Steven are hammering on the door but I don’t want to change things just for the sake of it.

“Obviously the longer they do that, the harder it is to ignore and if someone is short of runs then you look to the guys in form in the second team.

“But I think you want three or four games for your batsmen to settle themselves in and give them a chance to get some scores.”

The early form of Crook has been incredible with his 8-37 and 141 in a second-team friendly match against Warwickshire.

And Ripley admits he is unlucky not be in the side.

However, with a long summer still to be played out, he insists there will be no shortage of opportunities for the Australian-born all-rounder.

“Steven is very unfortunate not to be playing in the first-team,” Ripley continued.”

“He got runs and wickets in the game at Beckenham and has been a very fine four-day cricketer.

“He was disappointed that he wasn’t in the team for the first game but he is doing all he can to change that.

“We’ve said all along that we have not got many – or enough – seam bowlers.

“But those we have got are high-quality performers.

“It is almost an impossibility to think that someone will play 16 Championship matches in the modern game.

“That is especially true if you play one-day cricket as well.

“Twenty20 might not sound a lot but if you bat, bowl and throw yourself around in the field giving everything it takes a lot out of you.

“And that doesn’t include the preparation and the travelling.

“We think the key is getting our bowlers to play 12 Championship matches – that is the number we have in mind – and that they are fit and firing when they do play.”