Northants boss Ripley sets sights on T20 recruit

Northants won the NatWest T20 Blast last season (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Northants won the NatWest T20 Blast last season (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

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Winter may have only just begun to bite, but Northants are already sharpening their sights on their next bid for glory.

David Ripley’s men returned to training at the start of November and have now started to step things up.

Behind the scenes, there are negotiations going on as Ripley looks to tie up a talented player for next season’s 20-over tournament.

Northants are, of course, the holders of the NatWest T20 Blast trophy after securing a stunning success at Edgbaston back in August.

They again defied the odds to defeat counties with far bigger budgets.

And they are now on the hunt for a player who can make a big difference for them once again.

In previous years, Cameron White, Shahid Afridi and, last time round, Seekkuge Prasanna played their part for the Steelbacks.

And Ripley is now ready to snap up another overseas star to aid the County cause.

“We’ve got a small budget for our T20 player so we’ll wait for that,” Ripley said.

“We’ve got some offers out and we’re waiting to formalise who that second T20 player is going to be.”

As for the rest of the squad, it’s a case of one out, one in.

Olly Stone has swapped Northants for Warwickshire, but with the bowler having missed most of last season with a knee injury, his absence shouldn’t be felt too keenly.

And his replacement looks like someone who can more than fill the young paceman’s shoes.

Nathan Buck has been recruited from Lancashire, and he is certainly a player of some pedigree.

The 25-year-old, who has signed a three-year deal, took four for 28 in a T20 game against Birmingham Bears last summer and has picked up 158 first-class wickets at 38.52.

Buck has previously represented England Lions and is a player Ripley has high hopes for.

“Olly’s gone and Nathan’s come in so that’s really us done in terms of recruitment,” the head coach said.

“It’s as we were really and Nathan’s fitted in really well.

“He was really keen to come to Northampton, which was refreshing and reassuring.

“He had some logistical stuff and he didn’t want to go too far from his roots, but he was very keen to come to us and we’re pleased to get him.

“He’s someone who’s still young, but who has got a lot of experience.

“He was in the Leicestershire team at a young age and he played Lions cricket at a young age so he’s fitted in really well.”

Northants start the 2017 campaign on Friday, April 7, with Glamorgan the visitors in County Championship Division Two.

The first Royal London One-Day Cup game will be at home to Warwickshire on April 27, while the defence of the T20 trophy gets under way on July 7, at home to Derbyshire.

“The lads have been training since November 1, physical training,” Ripley explained.

“Cricket isn’t compulsory this time of the year so we let them get on with it and we step it up a bit in January, when we start doing the cricket.

“It’s quite a nice time of year, a bit laid back, which is important because come the summer it’s a full-on place to be, a cricket dressing room.

“There’s lots of travelling, lots of long days away from home and it’s a nice time of year, this.”

Meanwhile, Northants trio Ben Duckett, Richard Gleeson and Graeme White are all set for the North-South clash in March.

The trio have been named in the North squad for the series which will involve three matches.

The North and South squads will gather in Dubai ahead of warm-up matches on March 15.

The first two matches of the series will take place at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on March 17 and 19 before it ends at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on March 21.

Duckett and White qualified through their performances in the 2016 Royal London One-Day Cup, measured by the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s Most Valuable Player rankings.

And Gleeson is involved because the England selectors want to take a look at players who have shown potential in the county game.