New schedule presents different challenges for the County

Northants head coach David Ripley won't be drawn into any opinions about the altered schedule that has been presented for the 2014 season
Northants head coach David Ripley won't be drawn into any opinions about the altered schedule that has been presented for the 2014 season
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David Ripley says that he has an “open mind” about the schedule for the 2014 season.

The 18 counties’ fixtures were announced this morning (Tuesday) with Northamptonshire handed a visit from county champions Durham on April 13 to open their account.

There are a number of significant changes on the list from last season with the Twenty20 - rebranded the Natwest 20 Blast - and the Clydesdale Bank 40 - now the Royal London One Day Cup - featuring at different stages of the summer.

Northants’ defence of the competition they won last season will start on Friday, May 16, and run over a 10-week period while the 40-over format, which is now a 50-over event to mirror the international game, is arranged in a block starting at the end of July.

That gives the whole entity a lot more clarity than in the past with matches starting, in the main, on specific times of the week.

But while a calendar that sees Championship cricket beginning on a Sunday and Twenty20 offered on a Thursday and Friday is more spectator-friendly, it will give those who do the playing little in the way of turnaround time.

However, head coach Ripley says that opinions should be shelved until some experience has actually been garnered.

He said: “I’ve got an open mind about it all.

“It certainly looks a lot clearer but my main concern is how we prepare for games.

“If it’s going four-day then one-day then four-day and so on there will be little time to get ready for each format.

“Obviously we need to practice but we can’t be doing it seven days a week as that wouldn’t be particularly healthy.

“We’ll just have to try and get our heads around what works for us and at the end of the season we should be able to give a better view.”