Steelbacks' team spirit has been dented by early-season struggles

David Ripley (left) has seen his side struggle at the start of the season (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
David Ripley (left) has seen his side struggle at the start of the season (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Northants head coach David Ripley admits his side's togetherness has been hit by their poor start to the season.

But Ripley has urged his players to pick themselves up and avoid feeling sorry for themselves as they prepare to face Yorkshire at Headingley today (start time 2pm).

Defeat at Worcestershire last Sunday ended Northants’ hope of qualifying from the Royal London One-Day Cup North Group.

That means Ripley has opted to mix things up in terms of his team selection, with the squad still shorn of key players due to injury.

Ben Cotton and Charlie Thurston are both in line to make their first Northants appearances in the fixture against Yorkshire, which comes two days before the start of the County Championship clash with Leicestershire in Northampton.

And Ripley said: “Our priority now will shift to Saturday’s game in terms of practice and resting personnel - some of the bowlers look a little weary.

“We need to dust ourselves off - we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.

"We’ve got three big Championship matches because after these, half our season will have gone and if we don’t get something on the board we’ll have gone nowhere.

“The dressing room isn’t a good spot at the moment - people are hurting as you would expect.

"That togetherness we’ve always found to be a strength of ours but you lose a few games and one or two chinks appear which is inevitable, so there will be nothing better than winning a couple of games and enjoying our cricket a bit more.”

Northants have won just two of their seven games in the Royal London One-Day Cup this season.

Prior to that, they failed to win any of their opening four Championship games of the campaign, picking up just 15 points in the process.

They remain bottom of the table in division two, and Ripley feels injuries have been a key reason for the disappointing form in both competitions.

“We’ve added depth to our squad, which is welcome, and I think our squad looks good, but injuries have stretched us a bit once again in the One-Day Cup,” said Ripley.

“Richard Gleeson has missed the whole competition, Richard Levi has missed half of it, Rory Kleinveldt missed a couple of games, too.

"Luke Procter and Steve Crook have also been out and all these guys would probably be among our best 12 players so it has hurt us - but we still had a squad to compete harder and that’s disappointing.”

Northants now have three fixtures to ignite their promotion challenge before the Vitality T20 Blast begins.

But first they must negotiate the clash with a Yorkshire side that is set to contain the likes of Joe Root and former Northants star David Willey.

“We obviously want to be competitive in that game but the structure of the season is tough and we’ve got to be thinking about Saturday’s game as well," Ripley said.

“There’s a balance to be had and it’s a long season.

"It will probably be a key game to somebody so we don’t want to take the mickey, but it’s fair enough when we are stretched that we protect ourselves a little, the last thing we need is another injury at Headingley.”

Yorkshire's 13-man squad: Ballance, Bresnan, Carver, Fisher, Kohler-Cadmore, Lyth, Patterson (c), Plunkett, Pujara, Rashid, Root, Tattersall (wk), Willey.

Steelbacks' 13-man squad: Newton, Vasconcelos, Kleinveldt, White, Duckett, Hutton, Wakely (c), Cotton, Thurston, Rossington (wk), Keogh, Sanderson, Zaib.