VIEW FROM THE BLUES: County have two games left to avoid an unwanted record

GONE TOO SOON? - Northants may regret their decision to release the reliable Andrew Hall at the end of the current season
GONE TOO SOON? - Northants may regret their decision to release the reliable Andrew Hall at the end of the current season
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A total of 88.5 points is the target for David Ripley now, that being the lowest points total recorded in Division One.

Glamorgan are the owners of that proud record, and another thumping defeat this week and just three points at Edgbaston suggesting overhauling it will be a struggle.

If the coach can’t achieve that, then I do feel questions should be asked about his leadership.

The overseas staffing was handled badly and it’s also becoming clear last year’s heroics in the championship were mostly down to two or three players.

Northants a completely different side without Trent Copeland and a fit David Willey.

Steven Crook has been poor without those two at the other end, and it feels like Andrew Hall and James Middlebrook are taking the blame for other shortcomings across the team.

The senior players were not impressed with David Smith’s mid-season dressing down, and perhaps some of that ire should have been aimed at people like Kyle Coetzer, Matt Spriegel, Rob Newton, Stephen Peters and the almost anonymous Maurice Chambers.

It was the same in the one-day stuff, with the players all at sea without Cameron White and Alex Wakely’s excellent leadership.

Too many guys simply coasted this season as the challenge was all too much, and Ripley couldn’t lift them out of that malaise, which is his job.

Ripley had to scream for the players he really wanted in the winter, and Northants had to go over budget to compete.

By all means dump the high earners if that then didn’t work out, but it seems to me Smith wanted to dump them from day one and that fed through to morale.

Four days in Birmingham was the challenge for the coach this week as Warwickshire tried to keep their slim chances of stealing the championship alive at Edgbaston - although that is now an impossibility with Yorkshire claiming the title with their win at Notts.

For Northants, the final matches are about Rips needing to make decisions on a few players, and with no one seemingly wanting to sign for Northants on our poor wages, he may regret letting Hall go.

Josh Cobb it seems will prefer to stay at a Leicestershire side that conceded a world record 500 runs in a day than move to Wantage Road.

Northants were comfortably bowled out for 273 on day one.

There were two decent partnerships but no one going on to get the hundred, accurate and quality seam bowling all over Northants.

James Kettleborough (71) seems to have clicked with Peters (35) for another opening 50 partnership, whilst Adam Rossington (44) and Hall (43) secured the two batting points with a hundred partnership.

Hall is a proud man and not about to dribble out the season in a sulk, no doubt seeking further employment in his 40th birthday week..

The worry now is Coetzer, doing absolutely nothing this season in the big leagues and out of contract.

His 318 runs at 21 is pretty pathetic, and only age is on his side.

Either he or Middlebrook will be gone for me.

Rumour is that the overseas role next season will be taken by an all-rounder, but the announcement is embargoed until January, presumably because they may get picked for their international team or, indeed, get injured.

Warwickshire set about the Northants bowling with great gusto, and were 413 for three by the close of day two, and 573 for nine declared by the middle of day three (Warwickshire’s highest score ever against Northants away from Wantage Road).

There was a hundred for the mentally refreshed Jonathan Trott, and a double for Hain, the youngest ever player to do so for Warwickshire. His 208 was also the

highest score against Northants by any Warwickshire player.

It’s 19-year-old Hain’s fourth ton of the season, scoring one in the reverse against Northants at Wantage Road.

It was, of course, a record fourth wicket partnership against Northants, beating the 232 set by Amis and Humpage at Wantage Road in 1985.

In fact, it was a record for any wicket, Trott and Hain’s 360 beating the 306 by Powell and Ostler for the second wicket in 2000 at the County Ground.

As ever, Middlebrook filled in and bowled his heart out, five for 126 making him Northants’ most successful spinner since Monty Panesar, the last six wickets falling for just 71 runs.

I still want to stick with Midders next season now Hall has gone, as he does bring guarantees.

Neil Wagner got us out of a hole by coming over last month, and has put us in an even deeper one by bowling!

He has claimed four wickets for 476, and is averaging 120!

I don’t think he will be our overseas next year.

Like I say, Ripley has a lot to answer for on recruitment.

With Yorkshire nearly home at Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire pressed on to chase a sizeable cheque for second pace to go with their Twenty20 trophy and London Cup Final appearance.

Northants’ second innings was not much better than the first, only Rossington with 44 looking at home at this level with 477 runs at 38.

That is that a good average for a wicketkeeper and we need this guy to sign. Pay him well please, chief exec.

Duckett did his best to salvage some pride, but his top score of 71 proved in vain, as the County were beaten by an innings and 16 runs before lunch on Friday.

That is 50 per cent of all Northants’ championship games that have ended that way.