Anderson unavailability 'a bit of luck' but Ripley knows Lancashire will still be a big threat
The two sides begin their four-day encounter at Old Trafford on Thursday (11am), and the home side will be without England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker as the centrally-contracted star is being rested for the opening two rounds of the domestic season.
Anderson played for England in Sri Lanka and India over the winter, and has been told he won’t be able to turn out for his county until they take on Kent at Canterbury next week.
Lancashire who drew their opening Championship Group 3 clash with Sussex, will still be able to call on a formidable bowling attack that could include the likes of Saqib Mahmood, Tom Bailey, Luke Wood and Danny Lamb, but Ripley knows any attack in the world would be enhanced by Anderson.
“Lancashire are obviously a good side, and they have a good squad,” said Ripley.
“The bigger budget they have gives them the options to have a squad that is pretty much three-dimensional in terms of having white ball players and red ball specialists.
“They do need a big squad because they do have lads missing, with Liam Livingstone out at the moment, and they might have other people going into the (England) bubble, such as Jimmy Anderson.
“But I will be honest, him (Anderson) not being available is a bit of luck, because whoever plays against Lancashire next week they have to compete with Jimmy Anderson in England, in April.
“And, with all due respect to whoever is playing, that is going to be harder than when the team hasn’t got Jimmy Anderson in it.
“They had a good line-up last week and they had the better of that game (against Sussex) because they have got good depth, but it has to be an advantage that Anderson isn’t playing, so we will take that plus.
“We haven’t got a great record at Old Trafford in recent times to be honest, so it would be great to get up there and get on the front foot in the game early and slug it out with one of the teams you would expect to be nearer the top than the bottom of our six.”
Lancashire will also be without former Northants fast bowler Richard Gleeson, who is struggling with a back strain.
Northants for their part will have a fully fit squad to pick from, with Luke Procter and Brandon Glover, both unavailable for the Kent opener, having recovered from niggling injuries.
They are both playing in the current second team clash with Derbyshire at the County Ground, so are unlikely to be involved at Old Trafford, but Ripley does have the option of pulling two players out of that match to travel with the first team.
The players he pulls out of the game to take to the north west are likely to be left-arm spinner and former Lancashire player Simon Kerrigan, and overseas all-rounder Wayne Parnell, although Kerrigan is more likely to actually have a chance of playing against the Red Rose.
“We have a few selection issues ahead of us, especially if we want to get Simon in,” said Ripley.
“There were a lot of runs around in the first round of games, with perhaps some better wickets, and I feel that without Simon as the frontline left-arm spinner, it leaves the captain with a few less options than we would have ideally liked.
“That will be one of our biggest selections, and if we want Simon in, how do we do that?
“I don’t think that realistically means dropping a seam bowler in the second week of the season, the suggestion would be we could get by with one less batter.
“That is the tactical element we will be talking about when we see the pitch at Old Trafford.”
Parnell and Kerrigan both got decent bowling spells in during the second team clash with Derbyshire on Wednesday.
South African Parnell also got the opportunity to bat, hitting 45 from 78 balls as Northants IIs posted a huge 525 for four declared, with Richard Levi finishing on 55 not out from 93 balls.
Emilio Gay had earlier carried on where he left off from day one before being dismissed for 189 from 301 balls.