Lockdown sees Northants restructure their pre-season training schedule

National lockdown three has caused a rethink on Northants' pre-season training plans - but the County players will be back in work from Monday.

Northants head coach David Ripley
Northants head coach David Ripley

Head coach David Ripley and his coaching staff had been due to return to Wantage Road to begin preparations for the 2021 season earlier this week.

But the fast-moving Covid-19 situation, with cases on the increase and country once again being placed into a full lockdown, led to head coach David Ripley and his coaching team of John Sadler and Chris Liddle changing their plans.

It means that the players will now train in reduced group sizes, with a dedicated coach looking after each group, but Ripley is just relieved that the squad is going to be able to get back to work.

Northants assistant coach John Sadler

"We have adjusted the programme," revealed Ripley.

"We had one in place to start back on Wednesday, but we bought ourselves a bit of time after the news (of the lockdown), just to see if we could shuffle things round.

"We wanted to make it a little bit safer, with a little bit less contact, and we have done that.

"So we are now going to train in groups of three, with three groups coming in for a day, so a player will get their session in every fourth day.

Northants bowling coach Chris Liddle

"There is no crossing over of coaches, each coach has his own group to work with, and we just felt that in the current climate we should make that adjustment.

"We were a pretty safe model before anyway because we still had coronavirus knocking around and we were going to be in smallish groups with not a lot of crossing over.

"But in that the coaches would have been crossing over, and that is the main difference because we have tried to isolate each coach with a skill-based group of players.

"So I am afraid we won't be seeing much of each other for the next four weeks, when we will review it.

The County Ground

"Hopefully, by the end of those four weeks, when we are in a bit more need of batting and bowling and nets and things like that, we will be in a position to feel confident for them to move into that.

"We are doing quite a lot of Zoom stuff with the players on Thursday and Friday with the players to kick off the first base meetings that we all had lined up.

"Then on Monday, albeit with an adjusted programme, we will get back to work, and that will be great.

"I am looking forward to seeing my group and then hearing from the coaches how the other lads are all going.

"I can't wait to get cracking."

Northants' coaches and players were due to begin their pre-season back in November, but due to Covid-19 they were placed on furlough for the final two months of 2020.

They are all now itching to get back, and Ripley believes the squad will be happy with the programme Northants have come up with, and that they will feel they are being looked after in what are difficult times.

"I have been chatting to some of the other head coaches, and some have continued as normal, but they were in small groups anyway," said Ripley

"One or two have decided to push coming back in to January 18, and I think Sussex are pushing back until February 1, so everybody has a different kind of model for where they are, and maybe how their players and staff are feeling.

"But I am pretty confident all of our players will buy into what we are proposing.

"We do have players who live a little bit away from the area, but there will be no need for stay overs.

"With the model we are putting over, players will just have to drive in, have a full day of a variety of cricketing activities, and then drive home before coming back two days later for the next session."

Ripley says there are no injury or fitness problems for any of the Northants squad, although a handful of players will be missing when the players return next week.

Ricardo Vasconcelos and Brandon Glover are currently playing club cricket in South Africa, and although they were initially due back in the UK, they are now staying out there for a while longer.

Ben Curran is in Zimbabwe where he is part of the Southern Rocks franchise who are supposed to be playing in the Logan Cup first-class competition, but that is currently on hold due to Covid.

Richard Levi is also in South Africa, and is due back in the UK at the beginning of February.