Ripley wants Northants to finish Championship group campaign with a flourish
The chance of a first County Championship title for Northants has gone for another year, but David Ripley has called on his team to end their group campaign with a flourish this weekend.
Tuesday’s 53-run defeat at the hands of Yorkshire ended the County’s hopes of claiming a top two finish in Group Three of the LV= Insurance Championship, meaning they miss out on the chance to play for the big prize in the end of season play-offs.
But after the conclusion of Wednesday's fixtures, it has been confirmed Northants will be playing in division two of the play-offs, lining up against the teams that finished third and fourth in groups one and two, all competing for places seven to 12th in the final Championship table.
And although that is obviously a disappointment for Ripley and the club, who had set their sights on that first league title in the club’s history, the head coach wants his players to wrap up the group stage with a win at Glamorgan in Cardiff, the match starting on Sunday.
Then, looking ahead to the division two play-offs, Ripley hinted the club will be using those games to give chances to players who have yet to play much so far this season.
“We were aiming for the stars, and we now don’t want to end up with an anti-climax,” said Ripley.
“We have played good cricket and I think we just need to finish the job now and then look forward to some fixtures at the end of the season that might give us the opportunity to blood one or two players.
“For me, finishing seventh over 11th doesn’t make that much difference.
“So if we get the chance to look at one or two players, I am sure that is how we will use it.”
Ripley was talking after Tuesday's loss to Yorkshire, and there was clear frustration that his team had come second best in a game they were so close to winning.
Even on the final afternoon the County gave themselves a chance as late batting cameos from Tom Taylor and Simon Kerrigan kept them in the chase, but it wasn’t to be.
“It looked a long way off when Simon was going in to bat (at 103-8 chasing 206), but he is a good player of spin and Luke (Procter) was already in,” said Ripley, who also saw his side lose by an agonising one run to Yorkshire at Headingley in May.
“The hope was still there, and the way the partnership developed with the way they accumulated the runs and upped the scoring rate.
“So when the partnership started getting some tempo, and it was the same when Tom Taylor was batting, the runs were coming and because it was a small target the hope did spring up again, only to be squashed at the death.
“So we have had a run for our money in the games against Yorkshire, but we haven’t quite been able to deliver that fatal blow that would have turned the league table around.”
Meanwhile, Northants seconds suffered a huge innings and 14 runs defeat to Glamorgan IIs in their Second XI Championship clash in Newport.
The County's batsmen struggled and were bowled out for 179 and 197, with the home side posting a huge 490 all out in their only innings.
That was mainly down to a record-breaking 276 from 268 balls from Australian Test star Marnus Labuschagne, who was making his playing return following 10 days in self-isolation after being named as as potential close contact to fellow batsman Nick Selman, who contracted Covid-19.
Labuschagne celebrated his return to action and warmed up for Sunday's clash with Northants' first team by hitting 32 fours and four sixes in a record Glamorgan IIs score.
The Northants attack was put to the sword, with only seamer Jack White escaping unscathed as he claimed three for 67 from 25.1 overs.
For the County, Ben Curran scored 74 in the first innings, and Academy all-rounder Gus Miller 79 in the second.