Low numbers no problem for Ripley

Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley
Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley

Head coach David Ripley doesn’t feel that a small squad is necessarily a hindrance.

In the not so distant past counties, and Northants were one of them, generally opearted with a playing staff of around 25 or more and that meant that clubs could field two sides of full-time professionals.

As wages and expenditure have grown at a far quicker rate than income, squad sizes have dropped to the current levels which, at the County Ground, are around the 18-19 mark.

But Ripley is of the opinion that it isn’t a propblem if it is managed properly.

He said: “I don’t think it’s the end of the world if you get the right kind of players in amongst a 16-man first team squad.

“If the squad is too big you have too many looking over their shoulders and if the quality is right it can be easier to keep the squad happier.

“The likes of Olly Stone would probably be at the end of that kind of list but he’s come in and shown that he can play first team cricket and that is how we’ve got to look at things.”

That means that the emphasis on the second team is more about development and opportunity which is an area in which Ripley has plenty of experience.

And he can see both the pros and cons from such a set-up.

He added: “There will be a youthful look to second team cricket which is about getting players ready.

“The only thing now is making early decisions on players, deciding whether they’re ready when it might be the case that in a couple of years time they would be first team cricketers.

“That’s tough on some lads because you can’t quite give them the chance and that’s the change that isn’t ideal.

“Recruitment into the academy system is obviously a big thing. It’s getting more competitive in that regard so we need to keep an eye out there but I think we’re doing well.

“We’re choosing from a big area and our task is to keep finding these players.

“It’s business as normal in that area (recruitment).

“We’ve all worked hard in that area and that won’t change.

“It’s nice when you’re trying to recruit young players if they see that there are opportunities.”