Vasconcelos enjoying life as Northamptonshire skipper

Ricardo Vasconcelos says he has enjoyed his new role as skipper of the Northamptonshire red ball team - but admits the transition 'has been tough at times'.

Northants skipper Ricardo Vasconcelos
Northants skipper Ricardo Vasconcelos

The 24-year-old was thrown in at the deep end on the eve of the new campaign when he was promoted to the top job by head coach John Sadler.

Adam Rossington had been expected to lead the team as he had done since 2019, but Sadler opted for a new direction, with Vasconcelos promoted and his predecessor immediately leaving the club to join Essex on loan.

And the South African-born player has overseen five draws and one defeat in his six matches in charge, a start that sees them in seventh place in the division one table with close to half the season complete.

Most of the matches have been high scoring, including the weekend draw with Kent, and Vasconcelos admits that has brought him challenges.

"I have enjoyed it, although it has been tough at times," he said.

"There have been a couple of games now we have done 200 overs in the dirt, and at times you are looking around and, understandably, nobody wants to bowl because they have already bowled 30 overs.

"That was more the case against Warwickshire than in the Essex game, because down there everybody was wanting to bowl because we were chasing a win.

"That wasn't the case at Edgbaston, where you knew from the morning of day three that it was going to be a draw.

"You are then asking your seamers to keep running in and hitting a hard length, and it is tough to motivate them, but to their credit they did do that."

Vasconcelos admits that he has become a captain earlier than he was expecting, but it is a job he has always been keen to take on, and that he is relishing the challenge.

"It definitely happened a lot earlier than I expected it to," said the captain.

"Even a few weeks before the season started I didn't expect it, but it is something I have always said I wanted to do and I still stand by that.

"It is something I am looking forward to growing into a bit more.

"As you do it more you learn about how to motivate your team-mates, how to even conduct yourself and separate batting from captaincy and things like that.

"I am sure I will grow into the role more, but as of now I am enjoying it."

One big change for Vasconcelos on a personal level is how, as an opening batsman, how he prepares for his innings while in the field.

"In the past when you have one or two wickets left to take, I have started thinking about my batting," said the left-hander, who has scored a century and a half-century in his past two innings after a slow start.

"But as a captain you can't afford to let your mind slip, because as we have seen already this season, teams are batting down to 11 nowadays.

"Those last two or three wickets that used to just happen, you now still have to work really hard for them, so you can't really afford to let your mind wander.

"That means you have to make the most of those 10-minute change overs to then switch on and to say 'right, now let's look forward to batting'."

Northants now take a break from Championship cricket until the end of June as the Vitality Blast takes centre stage.

The Steelbacks begin their campaign with a trip to Edgbaston to play Birmingham Bears on Thursday (May 26 – start 6.30am).