Sanderson setting sights on division two title tilt as Northants end summer on a high
The County have endured a desperately disappointing summer, failing to reach the knockout stages of the Vitality Blast and the Metro Bank One Day Cup, while their relegation from the LV= Championship Division One was confirmed last week.
It has been all too little, too late, but the past three matches have seen John Sadler's side find their form.
They were edged out by two wickets in a dramatic rain-affected match at Edgbaston, and then dominated champions Surrey at the Kia Oval, forcing the Londoners to follow on before having to settle for a draw.
Northants then wrapped up their campaign with a stunning innings and 39-run win over an Essex side that went into the final match of the summer still harbouring hopes of winning the Division One title.
The win was Northants’ first since they beat Middlesex in the second match of the season in mid-April.
On Thursday, replying to the County's 369 all out, their biggest first innings score of the campaign, Essex were bowled out for 211 in their first innings, and then rushed out for just 119 in their second.
Jack White was the star of that show, claiming five for 57, but the evergreen Sanderson was also instrumental, claiming three for 14 to add to his three for 17 from the first innings, to finish with match figures of six for 31 from 26 overs!
As an added bonus, he claimed the wicket of former England skipper Alastair Cook in both innings in what was reportedly the Essex man's final match of his long and illustrious career.
The win over Essex left Northants fans asking 'where has this form been all season?' - and Sanderson feels it is down to belief bringing a little bit of confidence.
"I thought we’d bowl Essex out before the follow-on because it was still doing quite a lot, but I didn’t expect us to roll them as quickly as that in the second innings," said Sanderson, who ended the season with 32 wickets at 24.68 apiece.
“Credit to our bowlers. Jack White has been phenomenal all season and deserved his wickets, it was just class.
“That game against Warwickshire where we gave ourselves no chance of winning, the shift we put in to try and win the game gave us a lift and more confidence.
"It’s belief, really and once you’ve got that feeling it is infectious throughout the team.
“Then going to the Oval and watching Karun (Nair) bat how he did filled the dressing-room with even more confidence.
"We know we’re not far away when we’re turning over the top few teams in the country.
“For us to put those performances in shows how good we could have been, it’s just a shame we didn’t do it sooner."
Northants must now dust themselves down and prepare for a return to Division Two next summer.
They claimed promotion the last time they played in the second tier in 2019, and Sanderson feels the squad is well place to repeat that acheivement in 2024.
“We’re in a good position in terms of our squad," said the 34-year-old.
"If we can keep the same lads around again, improve our batting form and maybe add a bit more bowling strength with an overseas, I think we should be contenders to win that league.”
White's five-wicket haul was his third of the season, and took his wicket tally for 2023 to 50 at 25.58.
The seamer was named the club's supporters' player of the year during the lunch interval on Thursday.
The win over Essex wasn’t enough to lift Northants off the bottom of the Division One table, their 96-point tally leaving them adrift of fellow strugglers Middlesex and Kent who play the final days of their final matches on Friday.