Red ball the lure for Crook’s County return

Steven Crook, who played at the County Ground from 2006-2009, has returned for a second spell at the club
Steven Crook, who played at the County Ground from 2006-2009, has returned for a second spell at the club

The opportunity to play more four-day cricket was the chief reason behind Steven Crook’s return to Northamptonshire.

The 29-year-old all-rounder, who has arrived at the County Ground on a two-year contract after leaving Middlesex with 12 months to run on his deal, is undertaking a second spell at the club after leaving in 2009.

But with first-class opportunities limited in the capital – Crook joined Middlesex in 2011 following a year out of the game – he believes that his ambitions can be realised in the town he describes as home.

“The chance to play a bit more and to play under Rips (David Ripley) and Rowie (Phil Rowe) was a massive thing for me,” he said.

“I was playing most of the one-dayers at Middlesex but you’re judged as a cricketer on what you do in the first-class game and to be able to play more red ball cricket made a difference.”

And Crook, who made his first-class debut for Lancashire back in 2003, pointed towards the chance to play a senior role as another factor behind his move.

He added: “It was a big thing for me the fact that I’ll be quite a senior player in the team.

“I’ll have to work at my own game, I know that, but I’ll be able to work with the younger lads and hopefully help them develop.

“I know I’ve been playing for a while and my own game will have to be in order but it will be an exciting role.”

There will be some who find Crook’s decision slightly baffling given that he was plying his trade at the most iconic ground in the world but the man himself doesn’t see it that way, preferring to concentrate on what he calls a “fantastic challenge.”

He continued: “I live in Northampton, I have done since I moved here in 2005 and it’s my home away from Australia.

“It’s nice to come home and Rips is forming an exciting outfit and we should upset a few teams next season.

“It was a difficult call to leave Middlesex because they gave me a chance and I’ll forever be grateful to all the people there.

“I’m leaving behind a lot of good mates but it’s exciting what Rips is doing here and I’m thrilled to be here and am itching to get working.”

It’s been stated on too many occasions that the recently passed season was one that won’t live long in too many people’s memories.

Crook has been brought in to help arrest that slide and he believes a forthright approach will be that way way to do it.

“We need to sit down over the winter and work out where we can improve,” he said.

“I think we need to play positive cricket, take the challenge up and go hard at teams.

“There’s hard work to be done, we all know that, but it’ll be great to be part of it.”