A ball hasn’t been bowled in anger since Northants’ Specsavers County Championship Division Two win over Durham on September 22 last year, with the 2020 season having been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The campaign is set to get underway in a truncated form at the beginning of August, with the Northants players having now returned to training in preparation for that.
The bowlers were the first to get back into the swing of things last Wednesday, with the batsmen joining them this week, and the training will gradually be stepped up between now and the end of the month.
Head coach David Ripley, his fellow coaches Chris Liddle and John Sadler and the club’s medical staff have been hard at work planning the players’ comeback from their enforced three-month break.
There are complications in connection with a safe return to playing cricket, and Ripley outlined how Northants are planning to deal with things - and that date with Middlesex at the County Ground.
“As we go through this month, we will gradually go from small, kind of pairs training, to three small groups of six or seven,” said Ripley, who has overseen one-to-one coaching with the bowling group over the past eight days.
“Then we will go to half of the squad, and then at the sharp end of it in the last week before we are due to start we have full squad training.
“We will also have two days’ practice against Middlesex in the diary, who are coming to Northampton, and that is right at the end of July.
“They want to come and we want to host them, because the following week we will have proper, competitive cricket to play.
“We are all thinking it is going to be safe to do that, and sensible, because we want to get used to what it is going to be like, re-entering competitive cricket.”
Initially, the sport will return behind closed doors, but there is still hope cricket fans will be able to see some live action later in the year.