Alec Swann - Northants’ expectations shouldn’t be too excessive

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

You may be unaware, and going on the Baltic temperatures that the country’s currently experiencing I’d hardly blame you, but the domestic cricket season gets under way today.

Not for Northamptonshire, their opening action comes next Wednesday when they face Glamorgan in the County Championship, but for half a dozen counties who have university opposition to contend with.

So no cushy chance for Stephen Peters et al to give their campaigns a confidence-boosting start but the atmosphere at the County Ground is a vibrant one nevertheless.

Every club, regardless of the sport, is upbeat in the days immediately preceeding their seasons, as they should be, but the optimism is slightly guarded among the brains trust at Wantage Road and rightly so.

It has been a well-used fact that last year the club had the worst record in the whole country with a dismal four victories in all competitions.

It would be pushing the boat out to describe 2012 as a poor year because, let’s face it, it wasn’t as good as that.

Average in four-day cricket and dire in the limited-overs stuff, there was so little that was decent to write about that, by the middle of September, it had all become too predictable.

However, that was then and this is now.

A new coach (well, in his first full season anyway) a new captain in both forms and a handful of new signings have rightly lent a more positive air to proceedings and that should, and I emphasise that word, lead to a more productive summer.

And this leads nicely back to the tempering of expectations by those in charge.

In simple terms, Northants are unlikely to be winning anything in 2013.

Promotion in the Championship is an outside bet but they are long odds in both the 40 and 20-over formats and if you’ve got money to burn, I’d go and waste it on someone else if I were you.

That may appear to be overly negative but it is based in far more reality than the ludicrous predictions some will come out with.

Time is generally not on the side of professional sporting clubs but Northants need to take theirs if they are to show signs of development.

Improvement has to be the watchword and if, come Spetember, that has been achieved - and by this I mean a stronger Championship showing and a good handful of victories in one-day cricket - then that should be classed as a successful year.