Northants head coach David Ripley is relishing the chance to face the title favourites in the County Championship Division Two opener on Sunday.
Ripley’s men host Sussex, who were relegated from division one last season, in the first four-day encounter of the new campaign.
It will be a tough test for a Northants squad that lost David Willey to Yorkshire during the off-season and who currently have injury worries over Rob Keogh and Steven Crook.
But Ripley said: “It’s a good fixture. Playing the favourites at home first up is a great fixture.
“We’ve just been a little clouded by injury niggles, but hopefully come Sunday we’ll be right on it.”
Northants finished fifth in division two last season, were eliminated at the group stages of the Royal London One-Day Cup and reached the final of the NatWest T20 Blast.
So what are Ripley’s aspirations this time round?
“I hope we can be injury free because that will enable us to play some competitive cricket in the championship,” Ripley said.
“It’s a good competition and the two divisions are quite evenly split so we’ll hope to give a good account of ourselves there.
“We’ll hope to push for the quarter-finals in our white-ball cricket because we’ve got some very dynamic one-day cricketers and we’ve played some good stuff over the past few years.
“We feel we can give anyone a game on our day so we think competing in those competitions is realistic and that’s what we’re aiming for.”