In-form Gareth Berg on course to earn a new contract offer from Northants
Head coach David Ripley believes Gareth Berg is 'making a really strong case' to earn himself a new Northants contract beyond the end of this season.
The experienced all-rounder joined the County from Hampshire, signing a two year deal after a short loan spell at at the back end of the 2019 campaign, but then endured a frustrating year as the Covid-19 pandemic restricted last season to just a handful of first-class games and a curtailed T20.
The 40-year-old is certainly making up for lost time in the 2021 campaign though, and in last weekend's hammering of Sussex at the County Ground he claimed career-best match bowling figures of nine for 90.
That took his wicket tally for the season to an impressive 19 from four matches, at an average of 18.9.
The South African-born player is also averaging a shade under 45 with the bat, and Ripley admits Berg is now one of the first names on his County team-sheet.
"Gareth has been great since the first moment we set out on the grass," said the head coach.
"Since we moved from indoors to outdoors he has been one of our best bowlers, looked a handful on those early season English pitches, but he has also bowled very well on the flat wickets.
"Touch wood he looks fit and strong, and he has really cemented himself a spot in our best team. All credit to him, he has been really good."
Berg has impressed so much that Ripley's thoughts have already moved on to extending the player's stay at Wantage Road, although he suggested it could be tailored towards red ball cricket only.
"There could be some flexibility in a contract," said the head coach.
"We have quite a lot of white ball deals, but there might be something in us just getting round a table and trying to sort something out that is a bit more red ball focused.
"Gareth is certainly holding some of the aces at the moment, because he is bowling really well.
"He is out of contract (at the end of the season), but I think he is enjoying his cricket here and I would hope he would like to continue with us.
"He is certainly making a really strong case for that, he is chipping in with some runs and he is catching them at slip."
The player's age is not an issue for Ripley either, especially as he feels there is plenty of young talent getting already their chances at the County Ground.
"As long as you have a balance," he said.
"I don't think any coach wants to see a team of 30-somethings all together, you have to balance it up a little bit.
"I think we have that around our squad, so I would be more than happy that, if Gareth contuinues at the level he is at, then I don't see his age being a factor in offering him another contract."