History against Northants as they head to Old Trafford
Northants return to Specsavers County Championship Division Two action on Tuesday with the weight of history against them.
They travel to Emirates Old Trafford hoping to build on a productive start to their first-class season.
Draws at home to Middlesex and away to Glamorgan in the first two fixtures yielded 23 points and plenty of runs for Alex Wakely’s side.
And they now travel to Lancashire for the first of eight Championship matches before the Vitality T20 Blast begins in July.
But Old Trafford has not been a kind venue for Northants. Since their first visit in 1907, the County have won only four of 45 first-class fixtures there.
Even accounting for stereotypically bad Manchester weather, that leaves Old Trafford as Northants’ least productive county headquarters away from Northampton.
Northants have also only won four times at Chester-le-Street - Durham only entered the Championship in 1992 - and at Canterbury.
But only 15 matches have been played there, with Northants winning 14 times away from Kent’s HQ with Gravesend, Dover and Maidstone some of the many successful out-grounds.
The nearest comparison to Northants’ record at Old Trafford is Trent Bridge.
Here, the county have their worst strike-rate of any county ground, with just five victories in 61 matches.
Twenty-eight times Northants have tasted defeat in Nottingham - their largest number of defeats at a single ground.
So the Northants side of 2019 have a chance to do something special this week - and most travel north with good memories having almost won on their last visit in 2015, when rain wiped out the final session with only three wickets needed for victory.
South Africa international Temba Bavuma has arrived as overseas player and will try to help Northants keep in touch with the top three of division two before the start of the T20 Blast, with captain Wakely having reinforced the benefit of promotion.
“The Championship is massive for us,” Wakely said.
“To be in division one, for the future of the club, is so important.
"There’s so much uncertainly what might happen with the different formats from next year but if we can get promoted that would be huge.
“It’s been good to be back practising against the red ball.
"We had a great start in the Championship with a good haul of points.
"Lancashire is obviously going to be tough but we’ll get a smile back on our faces – we play our best cricket that way.
“It’s a tough test but if you’re going to go up you’ve got to be competing strongly with these sides.
"It’s a real test of character but we’ve got a lot of batsmen in good nick so hopefully we can go up there and show what we can do.”