Middlebrook likely to leave County

James MiddlebrookJames Middlebrook
James Middlebrook
Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley has confirmed James Middlebrook might well have to leave the club at the end of this season.

The 37-year-old has scored 777 runs and taken 28 wickets to be one of the leading performers in a dreadful LV= County Championship season.

But it seems he will probably not be offered another deal at Wantage Road as the bite of relegation sinks its teeth in to the County’s finances.

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“As it stands there is no final decision but we find ourselves in a position where we might not be able to offer him a new deal,” Ripley said.

“Personally, I think that would be tough because he’s done everything we have asked of him - bat, bowl and, at times, captain the side as well.

“But finances are very tight.

“Relegation means we have to re-think our budgets and there is potential we might have to face up to life without him.

“I am a Middlebrook fan. You can’t knock what he’s done for the club.

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“But the reality of the situation is that we are preparing for life in Division Two again and that has an impact on our playing budget.”

A much more youthful squad is going to start the 2015 season with Ripley admitting the longer version of the game will not be the priority in the immediate future.

Senior players Andrew Hall, David Sales and Matt Spriegel have all either left or are leaving the club while the prospects of Stephen Peters staying are uncertain.

A younger and more dynamic squad might offer the chance of competing better in the shorter matches while, at the same time, bringing in some much-needed revenue.

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“The club has been clear that we need to be on a firmer footing,” he added.

“There is no secret that we need to target T20 and one-day cricket because that is where we can bring in the money.

“A successful white-ball side will help us improve club finances and we want to play the sort of cricket that will get people coming through the gates on a Friday night.

“It doesn’t mean we are giving up on four-day cricket.

“But we have got to prioritise in the short-term and hopefully it will help us generate income for all formats.

“We will be giving younger players their chance and they will need a little time to develop their games.

“It might mean we take a little hit in the Championship for a while as they learn their game.”