INTERVIEW: Rossington aims to keep things simple as he settles into Northants captaincy
“For me it is about individuals knowing their jobs, and if they are doing their job and doing the best they can for the team, then that pulls in as a collective and makes the team performance stronger.”
Much is made of the art of cricket captaincy, about how you maintain harmony in a pressurised team environment where individuals are encouraged to be just that and urged to shine.
How you deal with the intricacies of tactics for 100s of different opposition players, an always evolving game situation, getting those bowling changes right at just the right time, and then there is how the pitch will play and what effect the weather may have on proceedings.
It is certainly fair to say it is much more than tossing the coin, calling heads and saying: ‘We’ll have a bat’.
Being a captain in cricket is arguably a far more involved and important role than it is in any other sport, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated.
That certainly seems to be the mindset of Northants’ four-day skipper Adam Rossington, who last summer dragged the team from the bottom of the Specsavers County Championship in July to finish second and claim promotion.
He took over the reins when Alex Wakely stepped down in June and oversaw a remarkable transformation, as Northants surged up the table, but he insists there is no great secret to his success - it’s just all about trust in the players around him.
“I don’t say too many words, really,” said Rossington, when asked about his style of captaincy.
“For me it is about individuals knowing their jobs, and if they are doing their job and doing the best they can for the team, then that pulls in as a collective and makes the team performance stronger.
“So there are not a lot of words from me, it is more about the actions and me going out there and trying to lead from the front.
“Then, hopefully if everybody does their jobs as best they can then with the talent we have got in the dressing room we are not going to be far away.”
After a superb run of results, winning six and drawing two of their final eight games, Northants ended the season as runners-up to champions Lancashire.
“It was really good, and it was a lovely way to end the season, getting promoted,” said Rossington, who turned 27 last week.
“We were playing some good cricket all year, but we were just losing key moments.
“I think in two of the first four games, we dropped a player and they went on to score a century or a double hundred.
“With those sort of moments, when things aren’t going your way it seems to punish you and people go on and get a big score.
"But at the back end of the season we were just really ruthless, we took all of our chances and put people under pressure non-stop.”
And he also had some kind words for his predecessor, who remained a key part of the Northants team as they powered towards promotion.
“Alex had done brilliantly for the club, and had done such a good job as captain,” said Rossington.
“Even when he was still captain, I don’t think we were playing bad cricket at all, it was just those little things that were happening.
“It is true that, especially in four-day cricket, when you get on a bit of a roll, which we did, then things start to happen for you.
“People were always sticking their hand up to put in a performance when we needed it, and that was how it was all the way through to the end.
“When you get momentum you can just keep rolling with it, and once you start to win it just breeds confidence and that carries on.
“Everybody chipped in along the way, and it was a really good team effort to get promoted.”
Promotion meant Northants were preparing for this summer and looking forward to their first stab at top flight cricket since 2014, when they finished rock bottom and failed to win a single game all campaign.
Hopes were very high they could compete better in 2020, but all plans have of course been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic that has dominated world events for the past three or four months.
The season has been put on hold until July 1 at the earliest, and although there has been no official confirmation as yet, it seems pretty certain the Championship won’t be resuming until the summer of 2021.
The first nine rounds of matches have already been called off, and if there is any red ball cricket at all later this summer, it seems more likely they will only be friendly matches as there is no time to stage a meaningful competition.
It is a blow to the club and the players, and frustrating for ex-Middlesex man Rossington who believes the team is far better equipped to deal with division one cricket now than it was six years ago.
But it seems they will now just have to wait a little longer than they anticipated to prove it.
Rossington said: “The last time we were in division one I came in on loan halfway through it, and I think it was my second or third game when we actually got relegated!
“That was a tough year across the board, but I think now we are in a much better place.
“We have got a few lads with a bit more experience, and we have some young lads who have not played in division one before and are hungry for a crack at it.
“We also have some lads who have obviously been there before and want to put things right.
“We have a lot of talent in that dressing room, and we are just looking forward to competing against the best.”
Finally, captaincy is something which can inspire many players, while it does become a burden on some.
Rossington feels that taking on the leadership at Northants has not affected his personal form at all, quite the opposite.
“I think it helped me, but I think I felt in pretty good form throughout last summer,” he said.
“It was one of those where, batting wise, it didn’t really affect me, I just carried on.
“The captaincy is another thing you are thinking of, but at the same time it has always been my thing that my main job there is the wicket-keeping.
“The captaincy runs alongside that, but if I am not doing my job as a keeper then it is not going to help the team.
“It goes back to that thing of making sure everybody is doing their job.”