Northamptonshire have named an unchanged side for their County Championship clash with Essex that gets under way tomorrow (Wednesday).
Head coach David Ripley will stick with the XI who had the better of a rain-affected draw with Glamorgan for what he believes will be a “sterner test.”
James Foster’s side played out a high-scoring draw with Gloucestershire in their season opener and Ripley thinks that the encounter will be a good gauge of the County’s development.
He said: “The bookies have got them at shorter odds than ourselves and they’re rarely wrong.
“It will be a slightly tougher challenge for us but that is what we want, to test oursleves against better opposition.
“They’re generally a good side and a strength of theirs is that they bat a long way down and they ususally invest in an overseas batter.
“That’s something that we’re aware of and it’s up to us to deal with it.”
The fixture marks the County’s seasonal bow on home soil and Ripley is hoping that a decent surface can be produced.
He added: “I’ve spoken to the groundstaff and they know what we’re after.
“The wet summer last year meant that we had some fairly bland games but hopefully we can get some pitches like the year before that had some good bounce and carry and turned a bit towards the end.
“It’s been a challenging pre-season for the groundstaff with the poor weather but they’ve been working hard out there.”
The County will go into the game in good spirits, and rightly so, after an encouraging effort in Cardiff.
And while Ripley was queitly pleased with what his charges dished up, he isn’t getting too far ahead of himself.
“It was a good start and there were a lot of positives for us,” he said.
“Unfortunately the result wasn’t one of them and I’ve no doubt we would’ve won the game if the rain had stayed away.
“But no-one else won so we didn’t lose out there and I want our improvement can continue this week.”
Northants: Peters, Coetzer, Sales, Wakely, Newton, Hall, Middlebrook, Murphy, Willey, Copeland, Crook.