Northants head coach David Ripley says his side are ‘desperate’ to have another crack at division one as they head into the final week of the season with a chance of promotion in the Specsavers County Championship.
Victory over Nottinghamshire at Wantage Road last week closed the gap between the sides to 13 points and Northants can now overhaul their east midlands rivals in the final round as they travel to winless Leicestershire.
Worcestershire are top of the table, a further six points ahead of Northants, but not quite out of reach.
Worcestershire need a maximum of six points at home to Durham to seal promotion, while Notts need to take a maximum of 12 points from their trip to Sussex.
Northants have been labelled as white-ball specialists, but have won eight red-ball matches this season.
And Ripley says his squad are keen for another chance to play in division one after a miserable campaign the last time Northants were promoted.
“The players are desperate to have another go,” said Ripley.
“We know 2014 didn’t go well for us. We had bad luck, we didn’t play well, and we’d love to try again.
“We sang the team song as loud as I’ve ever heard it after last week and there’s a desire to get the job finished now.
“There’s nothing better than winning a four-day match in my view - and most of the guys feel the same.
“We’ll have an eye on other places but we’ve just got to play our best cricket, get as many points as we can and see where it takes us. You never know.”
Whatever happens in the final week, Northants will end the season with their second-highest tally of victories since the County Championship was split. Only Mike Hussey’s side, with 10 wins in 2003, have won more than the 2017 squad.
Ripley says this season’s schedule has helped them find more consistent success.
“We’re desperate to do well in four-day cricket and they schedule hasn’t often enabled us to play our best team consistently because of our small squad and because we see white-ball cricket as very important as well,” Ripley said.
“But this schedule helps us get our best team out and there’s a lot of desire from the guys.
“It is changing, but cricketers still see their four-day cricket stats as important and high on their agendas.”