County wait on Sales as champions come to town

David Sales is 50-50 to be fit for the clash with Durham
David Sales is 50-50 to be fit for the clash with Durham

David Sales is rated as a 50-50 chance to be fit for Northamptonshire’s County Championship opener against Durham.

The County get their competitive schedule under way tomorrow (Sunday) at the County Ground against Paul Collingwood’s defending champions in the midst of something resembling an injury crisis.

One of those currently on the sidelines is Sales who didn’t take to the field throughout the pre-season build-up due to a calf problem and is struggling to be ready to take his customary place in the middle order.

Should Sales be ruled out, it will probably mean that Matthew Spriegel will deputise with Kyle Coetzer coming in at three.

There should be some good news with Rob Newton almost certain to have recovered from a cracked thumb and the remaining decision to be taken will be regarding which of the four seamers will miss out.

Speaking ahead of the game, head coach David Ripley said: “We’ll give David (Sales) all the time we can as we want him to play.

“Rob (Newton) is 99 per cent ready to go so I don’t see there being any problems there.”

Although not included in the squad of 12, David Willey could feature pujrely as a batsman should the injury list fail to ease as Ripley is reluctant to use the loan system.

He added: “David’s been given the all clear to bat and field and it could be that he slots in at seven in the future as he’s one of ours and this early in the year doesn’t seem the right time to get someone in on loan.”

As for the visitors, Ripley thinks, as champions, they will provide the ideal benchmark by which to judge his side.

“It’s a great fixture to have first up and I admire how they won the Championship last year.

“They’ve got some outstanding individuals and some younger players who stepped up and performed when they had to.

“We did the same in the Twenty20, we weren’t fancied to win it but we did and Durham should provide a good example to try and emulate this year.”

Northants from: Peters, Middlebrook, Coetzer, Sales, Newton, Spriegel, Hall, Crook, Murphy, Stone, Chambers, Azharullah.