Northants players gearing up for County Ground return for delayed pre-season

The Northants squad will finally get their preparations for the 2021 season underway at the County Ground next week.

By Jeremy Casey
Saturday, 2nd January 2021, 7:30 am
Northants head coach David Ripley
Northants head coach David Ripley

The players would normally by now be two months into their pre-season programme, having spent November and December working on their fitness at the Lynn Wilson Centre on Abington Avenue.

But due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the playing staff have all been on furlough since the end of October.

The squad have been working on their general fitness at home, before returning to work on Monday.

It is another situation that David Ripley and his players have had to adapt to in what has been a strange 2020.

But the head coach is confident there is plenty of time to get the squad fit and firing ahead of their opening County Championship clash of the campaign against Kent on April 8 - providing there are no more Covid-19 surprises on the horizon.

“We have been on furlough for two months through November and December, which was the safe thing to do,” said Ripley.

“The club is regrouping a little bit, and while on furlough the lads have been ticking over.

“If we get cracking when we come back, then I am very confident that in the three months, January, February and March, we will be ready as there is still plenty of time.

“We obviously don’t want any more setbacks though, or injuries, because that does start to impinge on how ready we will be.

"But if all goes well, I still believe that three months is plenty of time."

The first thing the players will do on their return is to undergo tests to assess exactly where their fitness levels are.

Ripley believes there won’t be any issues on that front as they have had programmes to follow, and has also reported a clean bill of health when it comes to injuries.

It will now just be about getting the players fully prepared for what is a busy start to the summer, with 28 days of Championship cricket pencilled in for April and May alone.

A key part of that would normally be the players getting away to sunnier climes for a bit of outdoor preparation under a warm sun.

Last March, just as the Coronavirus pandemic was beginning to wreak its panic on the world, the Northants players were in Singapore.

That was supposed to be the first of a series of annual trips there for the County players.

And although Ripley accepts circumstances mean a Singapore return is going to be highly unlikely in 2021, they are still hopeful a trip can be organised elsewhere if at all possible.

“We don’t know yet whether there will be a chance to go and have a trip abroad.” said Ripley.

“We did try to protect that in the budget because I do feel it is really important to hit the ground running, but we just have to be sensible and see if that is going to be possible.

“Singapore is looking difficult, but there are parts of the Caribbean that are open for business, and we will also keep an eye on Spain.

“But we have to be careful because we don’t want to be stuck in quarantine when we return.

“But if everything does start to look a little bit more normal, then I do think it is important to have that.”