Three spots still up for grabs in County’s opener

David Ripley
David Ripley

Northamptonshire will pick from a 13-man squad when they open their LV= County Championship campaign with a home game against Gloucestershire on Sunday.

A choice will be made between Josh Cobb and Ben Duckett as to who will bat at number seven while seam bowlers Olly Stone, Steven Crook and Mohammad Azharullah are battling out for two places.

It means that with Graeme White, Maurice Chambers and David Murphy not fit to play, Kyle Coetzer is the only member of the senior playing staff not included.

South African Rory Kleinveldt will make his debut for the County while his compatriot Richard Levi will open the batting alongside Stephen Peters - a partnership head coach David Ripley thinks could work well.

“I think they are a natural foil for each other,” he explained.

“Richard does have a different approach from his big-hitting one-day style when it comes to the four-day game.

“I’ve followed him during the winter in South Africa and sometimes he comes out of the blocks quite quickly, other times he is happy to get stuck in.

“It depends on how people bowl at him. If they don’t bowl well then he will deal in boundaries.

“In contrast Stephen has had to work very hard for some of his big innings.

“He is capable of - and happy to - bat all day and that is something we need everyone to follow.

“It’s a mental skill that we need to show.

“When we get in, we need to stay in. You don’t have to go through the gears and start hitting over the top. Just keep batting and keep your wicket in tact then runs and big scores will come.

“We saw extremely good examples of that last season.

“I think we had three triple-century partnerships against us when batsmen just hammered us into the dust.

“That’s something we need to work on.”

Northamptonshire squad: Wakely, Peters, Levi, Newton, Keogh, Rossington, Duckett, Cobb, Willey, Kleinveldt, Crook, Stone, Azharullah.