Ben Sanderson says Northants have got ‘the bit between their teeth’ to put their miserable 2018 campaign behind them and get back on the winning trail this summer.
The County had got used to enjoying success, reaching the T20 Blast final in 2015, winning the competition the year after, and then just missing out on Specsavers County Championship Division Two promotion in 2017.
They went into 2018 with hopes high for another positive campaign, but it proved to be anything but as Northants struggled in all three formats of the game.
The team also lost key players Ben Duckett and Richard Gleeson to Nottinghamshire and Lancashire respectively, but head coach David Ripley has been working hard on recruitment over the winter.
West Indies captain Jason Holder has been snapped up for the Royal London One Day Cup, South African Test star Temba Bavuma has signed on for a large chunk of the Championship campaign, and Pakistan all-rounder Faheem Ashraf is on board for the entire T20 campaign.
Zimbabwe pace bowler Blessing Muzarabani has also joined the club, and there have been new deals for the likes of skipper Alex Wakely, Josh Cobb, Rob Newton and Nathan Buck.
“We’re looking good as a squad and I think we’ve recruited quite well, both with the overseas players as well as the couple of players we’ve brought in,” said Sanderson, who was one of the club’s best performers in 2018, picking up a trio of player of the year awards.
“People have got the bit between their teeth as well after last year, when it didn’t go as well as we wanted.
“It’s massive motivation as no one wants a season like we had last year.
“We had a three-year period when we did really well, getting to the Blast Finals Day, then winning it, then coming close to getting promotion, so we’ve had that success followed by a dip last year.
“All good teams have that at some point, it’s about how you react and get back up. Hopefully we’ll react in the right way and everyone pulls together.”
Sanderson is also looking forward to continuing his bowling partnership with Brett Hutton this summer, and is also keeping his fingers crossed the club’s bowling unit can stay fit and healthy.
“I enjoyed my role last year, especially in red ball cricket when Wakers (Alex Wakley) sometimes struggles to get the ball out of my hands,” said Sanderson.
“I like red ball cricket because you can get into a rhythm, and it’s been good to have Brett at the other end.
“He’s very economical as well, which means that the batsmen have to take a bit of a risk against one of us. We dovetail well with each other and he had a good year as well.
“We’re very similar bowlers in red ball, so it’s easier for us to bowl at the top of off stump and then mix the ball around a bit. We keep it tight and then get our rewards.
“In white ball cricket you’ve got to be fitter, to run in and keep your optimum pace up. That’s what I’ve been working on this winter, getting stronger and fitter to help me be more consistent.
“We’ve not always been lucky enough to have all our bowlers fit at the same time.
“We’ve been patching people up in the past, whereas hopefully with everyone being a bit fitter this year Rips might have a few decisions to make!”