VIEW FROM THE BLUES: County quickly need to sign an overseas bowler

GOOD START TO THE SEASON - Northants all-rounder James Middlebrook
GOOD START TO THE SEASON - Northants all-rounder James Middlebrook

A year is a long time in local sport.

The Cobblers have gone from playing at Wembley Stadium to possibly taking on Wembley FC in the FA Trophy, and Northants, the Twenty20 champions, already look like they might have a struggle on their hands in the top flight of the LV= Championship.

Both clubs are struggling because they don’t have a front man, the top quality striker and strike bowler respectively needed to be competitive.

It’s too late for the Cobblers to dip into the market, but not for Northants.

The club says they were unlucky to lose both Jackson Bird and Rory Kleinveldt, but I say working off last year’s short list is not a good idea.

There are about 10 non-IPL guys who are eligible to play for Northants who have recently got their first Test cap, and a few others who have recently stopped playing Test cricket and are also not in the IPL, current target Sohail Tanvir fitting the latter category.

Whether they would want to come to Northampton out of season, and for the right money (the asking price just went up), is clearly the problem.

Tanvir has also had big injury issues in the past.

But after a thumping at Headingly we need to do something in the bowling ranks, as an unfit David Willey may not bowl until the Twenty20, and the attack looks samey without his energy and determination.

On the pitch and after a thrilling and deserved draw against the county champions Durham (brilliant pitch, Mr Groundsman), it was a 500-mile round trip to those current championship favorites Yorkshire.

Headingley in April is always as bracing as the pitch is lively.

Half the Yorkshire team are England Lions or ex-Test players, so it was always going to be another big ask for the injury-hit Northants team to stay with the opposition.

A surprising decision to bat first in indifferent conditions by Yorkshire backed up their confidence.

Alex Lees (90) and Gary Ballance (174) proved to be the class acts, and took the innings away from Northants to make 459 for nine declared.

The ball was doing a bit and the pitch offered up seam and swing, but these two piled on 156 with ease and that was that.

Lees was excellent against the new ball, with Ballance smashing the old one all over the place.

I suspect this will be the batting template that delivers Yorkshire the title, barring international call-ups.

As good as Northants have been in the past year, and they have been good, these big first innings scores are not unusual for the team to concede now, and it happened a lot after Trent Copeland’s first spell ended in 2013.

The back up bowling simply isn’t there at the moment, and I think Olly Stone really should have come in instead of a Willey, who is unable to bowl.

Maurice Chambers and Mohammad Azharullah have pace, but they soon tire, and it was left up to Andrew Hall with his bag of tricks to dig them out with four for 103 to stop the 500.

Maybe Stone could have kept it down to 400 and so an easier follow on target?

Batting wise it was shocking.

To score 94 all out all was rather pathetic if you consider the depth of the Northants line-up, and it was reminiscent of the Lancashire game at Old Trafford last year.

When we come up against first division quality, we generally struggle.

Jack Brooks made some sort of point with five for 36 to add to his 37 not out from 37 balls, and clearly Northants could struggle with these all-powerful first division seam attacks.

We can’t afford NOT to bring in a top class overseas seamer quickly if we are serious about staying up.

A world record-equaling eight LBWs in the Yorkshire innings suggested we bowled too conservative and straight, and curiously there were no LBWs in the Northants reply, suggesting the County were playing at one too many wide balls again.

Rain saved further embarrassment and ended day two.

It was better on day three, but Ryan Sidebottom and Brooks were still getting regular wickets with swinging deliveries.

James Middlebrook seems to have usurped Kyle Coetzer as opener and rallied the innings with 63 alongside the new number three, and that change may see a way to get Graeme White into the team if it’s a long hot summer.

Coetzer (39) is doing okay at three, but there was little other resistance as Northants were cleaned up for 245 on day four for the innings defeat.

The worry now is the Durham game was Northants at the peak of their performance, and at this level any lack of concentration would result in a Headingley style defeat.