Head coach Sadler ready for a 'relentless' season as County return to top flight

John Sadler will take charge of his first game as head coach of Northamptonshire on ThursdayJohn Sadler will take charge of his first game as head coach of Northamptonshire on Thursday
John Sadler will take charge of his first game as head coach of Northamptonshire on Thursday
John Sadler knows the summer of 2022 is going to be a relentless one for him and his Northamptonshire team - and he can't wait to get going!

The new head coach at Wantage Road is gearing up for his first game in charge when the LV= County Championship Division One campaign starts with a home match against Gloucestershire on Thursday (start 11am).

Sadler replaced the long-serving David Ripley in the top job back in October, and has been counting down the days to the new season ever since.

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And what an exciting season lies in store for Sadler and his team, who will be playing in the top flight of English cricket for the first time since back in 2014.

Promotion was actually won in 2019, a few months before Sadler even joined the club as assistant coach to Ripley, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the past two years has seen first-class cricket played in a three-conference format.

It returns to two divisions with promotion and relegation in 2022, and the County will be taking on the cream of English cricket over 14 matches.

They will be up against reigning county champions Warwickshire and 2019 winners Essex as well the likes of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Surrey and Somerset.

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Northants won't be going into things completely blind, as they played five of the teams last summer - namely, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Kent, Surrey, Gloucestershire and Essex - and, barring a couple of exceptions, competed well.

But Sadler knows playing in division one is going to be a lot different to the Conference cricket of the past two summers, and he says he and his players are ready for the challenge.

"We have played these teams regularly over the years, but the big thing in division one is the relentlessness of it," said the Northants head coach.

"There are no lesser games, there is no lesser team.

"Every single game is going to be relentless, every single game is going to be hard-fought, every game is going to be intense, and every game is going to have something on it.

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"But that is the beauty of division one, that is why what we are all excited about it."

So what is the target for Northants for the summer ahead? Is it about survival? Mid-table? Or aiming higher than that?

Sadler isn't going to start making predictions, but he is quietly confident he has a squad of players capable of doing themselves, and the club, justice.

"It is going to be a challenge every game, against some good teams and good opposition," said Sadler.

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"Without putting a definite target on it, we want to compete and try and win every game.

"We know that we can beat any team on our day, so it is just a case of being consistent over a long period, being consistent over four days and being consistent game by game.

"If we can get those consistency levels up, then we know we can beat anybody. It is a cliche, but it is about taking things game by game, and we are going to try and win every one.

"We will be ready to go on Thursday, we are all excited and just want to get the season started now."