Keogh returns to replace Newton in Northants team for Worcestershire encounter

Trent Copeland plays his final game for Northamptonshire before returning to Sydney
Trent Copeland plays his final game for Northamptonshire before returning to Sydney

Rob Keogh will bat in the middle order as a direct replacement for Rob Newton in Northants’ County Championship clash with Worcestershire that starts at the County Ground tomorrow (Wednesday).

The 21-year-old, who has only made two first-class appearances, the last of which was against Leicestershire last month, gets his opportunity after Newton was ruled out as a result of the right ankle injury he suffered in Tunbridge Wells at the weekend.

Keogh is the only enforced change although Steven Crook, who has been named in the 12-man squad after his back problem responded to treatment, may well come back into the starting XI if he is considered capable of getting through four days of cricket.

If Crook does return, it would probably be at the expense of Muhammad Azharullah who made a decent impression on his competitive first team bow last week.

Head coach, David Ripley, while keen to have Crook back in the fold, isn’t prepared to take any unnecessary gambles with his all-rounder.

He said: “I’d like to have him back, of course I would, but I don’t want him to start if he;s unsure that he can get through four full days.

“With Trent (Copeland) about to leave and Olly Stone injured, we’re in danger of getting quite stretched and we certainly don’t want that if we can help it.”

The visitors will arrive in the midst of some decent form, inspired by the seemingly indefatigable seamer Alan Richardson who has picked up 26 wickets in his last three Championship outings.

A pair of victories from those three, against Kent and Gloucestershire, has moved the Royals up to third in the standings.

And while aware of the threat posed, Ripley wants to put more daylight between his side and their nearest challengers.

He added: “They’re up and around us but the forecast is for four days of decent weather and the plan is to get another win.

“It’s Trent’s last game and he wants to sign off with a good performance and the team feel the same.”

Northants from: Wakely, Coetzer, Spriegel, Sales, Keogh, Hall, Murphy, Willey, Middlebrook, Copeland, Crook, Azharullah.