Head coach Sadler excited by the quality 'high performer' Young will bring to Northamptonshire

John Sadler has spoken of his delight at Northamptonshire's capture of ‘main target’ Will Young for the 2022 LV= Insurance County Championship Division One campaign.

By Jeremy Casey
Monday, 17th January 2022, 12:23 pm
Updated Monday, 17th January 2022, 12:24 pm
New Zealand Test batsman Will Young has been signed to play for Northamptonshire in the 2022 season
New Zealand Test batsman Will Young has been signed to play for Northamptonshire in the 2022 season

The New Zealand top order batsman put pen to paper on a one-year deal at Wantage Road before Christmas, and the overseas star is set to play virtually the entirety of the club’s four-day campaign, as well as in the Royal London One Day Cup.

The 29-year-old has been in great form for the Black Caps in the past couple of weeks, hitting three successive half-centuries in the Test series against Bangladesh.

His latest was a patient 52 from 114 balls as New Zealand levelled the two-match series with a thumping innings and 117-run victory in Christchurch, and that came off the back of scores of 52 and 69 in the first Test, which was won by the visitors.

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Will Young has hit three consecutive half-centuries in Tests for New Zealand

It means that Young has now scored five half-centuries in his past nine Test innings, having also hit 89 in the first Test against India in November and 82 against England at Edgbaston last June.

That record certainly augurs well for his stint with Northamptonshire, who are looking forward to their first season in the top flight of English cricket since 2014.

Having a player of Test quality walking out to bat every innings is going to be a huge boost for Northants as they strive to make an impression in the top flight.

Head coach Sadler felt it was crucial the club’s top order was strengthened following the retirement of Alex Wakely last season, as well as the departure of Richard Levi, and he says right-hander Young is going to ‘fit that bill’.

Asked if he was pleased to get the Young signing sorted, Sadler said: “He was our main target.

“We wanted to strengthen that top order, with several of our senior players leaving the club for various reasons last year.

“It was an area that I felt quite strongly about, having that kind of senior batter in there, somebody the younger lads can learn from as well as the performance element of him coming in as well.

“Will has got brilliant reviews from people we have spoken to, he is obviously a high performer, and he is the kind of character that I think will really blend in with us.

“He has had a good few days as well, getting a couple of 50s for New Zealand, so he is going really well and it is great to have him on board and getting him signed up.”

Young is a player with plenty of first-class experience behind him, averaging more than 42 from 149 innings, but he is only just starting to make his way in Test cricket.

He is still hungry to make his name and establish himself in the New Zealand set-up, and a run-filled season in the County Championship would certainly do Young no harm whatsoever.

It will also mean he is nicely warmed up for New Zealand's three-Test series against England in June.

The likes of Matthew Hayden and Mike Hussey benefitted hugely in the past from their stints with Northants preceeding their glittering international careers, and Sadler says Young’s drive and ambition are going to be crucial.

“I am always a believer that we need overseas players to come over here who need us just as much as we need them,” said Sadler.

“They want to come over and perform and enhance their own reputation as well as what we need from them, and I think Will fits that bill.”

Young has been batting as an opener in recent Tests for his country, but Sadler is not yet sure whether that is going to be the position he will take up with Northants.

“There is no decision on that,” said the 40-year-old.

“Obviously he is opening the batting in these Tests so we know he can do that, and it is about working out what is the best set-up is for us as a group, and where he fits in.

“But we do know it will certainly be at the top of the order in some capacity.”

What Young has proven in his recent innings with the Black Caps is that he likes to bat for a long time, and that is something Sadler wants to see at the County Ground and beyond in 2022 as well.

“It is about batting time, making those big scores and big partnerships, and Will is somebody that we are going to obviously lean on and look to learn from,” he said.

“The fact is he is going to be a great acquisition for us, and we are looking forward to getting him on board.”

The season is due to start in April, and Sadler is hopeful Young is going to be here for the first game, and be sticking around all summer as well.

“The plan is that he is going to be here from the start,” said the head coach.

“There is the New Zealand tour planned, so he may miss a game at some point depending on those commitments, but he is pretty much locked for all Championship cricket which is fantastic.”

Meanwhile, Northants youngster James Sales played a key role as England Under-19s got their World Cup campaign off to an emphatic winning start in the West Indies on Sunday.

Sales opened the bowling and claimed one for 29 from his nine overs as Bangladesh were rushed out for just 97, with Lancashire's Josh Boyden taking four for 16.

England then eased to 98 for three to win by seven wickets.

Richard Dawson's team are back in action in St Kitts & Nevis on Tuesday when they take on Canada in their second Group A game.

The Canadians were beaten by 49 runs in their opener against United Arab Emirates on Saturday.