Head coach Ripley delighted by board backing as Northants prepare to step up

Northants head coach David Ripley has spoken of his delight at the backing he has been given by the club’s board after a busy winter of recruitment ahead of the new cricket season.

By Jeremy Casey
Thursday, 13th February 2020, 11:18 am
Updated Thursday, 13th February 2020, 11:18 am
Northants head coach David Ripley
Northants head coach David Ripley

The County were promoted to the top flight of English cricket in September, and will play in Specsavers County Championship Division One for the first time in six years when the new campaign starts in April.

The most recent occasion Northants were promoted they were relegated straight back down the following year, failing to win a game in the 2014 season, and they have been playing in division two ever since.

Ripley and skipper Adam Rossington guided the team to a second place finish in division two last summer though, and now the coach is plotting a way to ensure Northants don’t suffer the same fate they did the last time they were dining at the English game’s top table.

Brandon Glover

It has certainly been a busy winter of contract renewals, extensions and signings, and the focus hasn’t just been on the four-day game either, with the capture of West Indies T20 skipper Kieron Pollard for a large chunk of the Vitality T20 Blast campaign grabbing the headlines.

Pakistan all-rounder Faheem Ashraf has also been nailed down for the whole T20 group stage as well as the first half of the four-day campaign, and big-hitting Irishman Paul Stirling will play in the T20 when Pollard’s not around.

Promising Dutch fast bowler Brandon Glover has also been recruited, along with another pace man in Jack White, while there have been contract extensions for the likes of Ben Sanderson, Alex Wakely, Rob Keogh, Luke Procter, Richard Levi, Charlie Thurston and Saif Zaib.

Add to that the fact that Rossington and Ricardo Vasconcelos committed their futures to the club midway through last summer, and that Gareth Berg was recruited at the back end of the season, and it means things are looking good for the new campaign.

Kieron Pollard

Indeed, Ripley, who has also appointed a new assistant coach in John Sadler and a new bowling coach in Chris Liddle, is delighted with the strength and depth of the squad that has been created.

In the week where the club announced a profit of £464,463 for 2019, things look to be in good shape at the County Ground, and the head coach said: “There is a balance to be struck, and hopefully we have got things right with the signings.

“We are going to have the biggest squad we will have had in modern times, as we are now up to 21 domestic players. It wasn’t that long ago we only had 16, so that is a good sign of progress.”

Asked if he has been pleased with the support from chairman Gavin Warren, chief executive Ray Payne and the rest of the Northants board, Ripley said: “We have done great over the winter, and I guess we are starting to see some early signs of the ECB windfall from The Hundred.

Gareth Berg

"I think little bits of that start coming in for this coming season, and it’s also about the hard work the board have done over the past three or four years.

“You look at it and see that Leicester have had a few troubles going the other way, and I am sure they will sort that out, but we have already sorted ourselves out.

“The chairman, the chief executive and all of the board have worked very hard to put us in this position.”

Ripley knows that, in terms of finance, Northants are still going to be lagging behind many of their rivals in division one this summer, but he says the club’s investment goes way beyond just the first team, and that the building blocks are also being put in place for a successful future.

“I wouldn’t suggest that we will be in the top half of the budgets this summer, because that is not where we are heading, but we are on a firm footing,” said the 53-year-old, who has been head coach at Wantage Road since the summer of 2012.

“We have a long-term plan, there is partnership stuff we are looking to do as well, below the professional team, and link ourselves with Beds, Hunts and Buckinghamshire, so we are really in it for the long haul with regards to spreading our net.

“We have lads coming in from all of those counties who are on our EPP (Emerging Players Programme), so we are looking at the big picture stuff, as well as the sharp end of the first team.”