Places still up for grabs as Northants get set for final pre-season friendly

Head coach David Ripley says that first team places are still up for grabs for Thursday's LV= Insurance County Championship opener against Kent.

Saturday, 3rd April 2021, 10:23 am
Updated Saturday, 3rd April 2021, 10:24 am
Northants head coach David Ripley
Northants head coach David Ripley

And that will provide extra motivation, if it were needed, for those players involved in Sunday's two-day friendly against neighbours Leicestershire at the County Ground.

The County have enjoyed decent warm-ups so far in a rain-hit friendly at Hampshire as well as a two-day inter-squad match on home soil on Monday an Tuesday.

In that game, Ben Curran scored a century and there were 50s for Alex Wakely and Ricardo Vasconcelos, while with the ball, Gareth Berg claimed a five-for to go with the three wickets he claimed against Hampshire.

The fitness of Wayne Parnell will be assessed to check if he is ready to play against Leicestershire or not

The County squad also has practice days on Thursday and Friday, and although Ripley knows he is nearing decision time when it comes to who will take to the field for that season opener at Wantage Road, his decision won't necessarily be strictly down to who has made significant contributions in the practice matches..

"We have to try and narrow things down, and we have had two important days of practice," said the head coach.

"The thing is with cricket, you see Ben (Curran) and Ricardo (Vasconcelos) put on more than 100 in the game on Monday and played really well, but the bowlers still passed the outside edge a number of times, but they didn't manage to find the edge.

"If I then take Josh Cobb as an example the next day, he goes in and nicked off. He edged one of those balls and it went to the keeper.

"So cricket isn't an exact science on just outcomes, it's also about what you are seeing, how many balls you think are hitting the middle of the bat when you are all playing on the same surface.

"But for the Leicester game we probably will try and narrow it down a bit from the major group, although I still feel there is a little bit of funneling to be done before we are sure what our side is for the match against Kent which will be selected after that Leicestershire match."

Ripley will definitely be without bowling all-rounder Luke Procter for the Leicester and Kent games due to a side strain, while pace bowlers Jack White and Brandon Glover are both doubts due to shoulder problems.

South African all-rounder Wayne Parnell should be available for selection after completing his Covid-19 quarantine, but Ripley and the club's medical team will assess the player's fitness before deciding on whether to play him or not.

Play starts at 11am on both Sunday and Monday, with the match being played behind closed doors.