Sadler looking forward to big Blast nights under the lights at the County Ground

John Sadler admits he can’t wait to experience a T20 Friday night under the lights at the County Ground - and is hoping the club’s supporters can cheer the team to the knockout stages of the 2022 Vitality Blast.

By Jeremy Casey
Friday, 28th January 2022, 10:25 am
Updated Friday, 28th January 2022, 10:26 am

The much-delayed fixtures for the domestic cricket campaign were finally released last week, and it is going to be a long, hard summer for Sadler and his Northamptonshire squad, but an exciting one as well.

The club is playing in the top flight of the LV= Insurance County Championship for the first time since 2014, and will begin and end the campaign on home soil.

Northants start with a home clash against Gloucestershire on April 7, and will wrap things up at Wantage Road against Essex on September 26 - with a lot of cricket in between.

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Full houses will hopefully be allowed back into the County Ground this summer

As well as 12 other four-day fixtures, there is the little matter of a 14-match T20 Blast North Group campaign, and an eight-match Royal London One Day Cup Group B schedule, with hopefully a few knockout games thrown in!

That is certainly the target when it comes to T20, and with the way the fixtures have fallen this year, Sadler is hopeful the fact the Steelbacks will play five of their final eight group games at the County Ground will be crucial.

It was a very different story last season, with Northants starting with three successive home matches in front of Covid-restricted crowds, losing all of them, and the club’s new head coach is keeping his fingers crossed full houses will be allowed in this summer.

One, so he can at last experience the full County Ground T20 experience, and two, so the supporters can cheer their team to glory.

Northants head coach John Sadler

“We were unfortunate last season, even with the Covid restrictions as well, and when we played in front of our home crowd it was limited,” said Sadler.

“Hopefully, fingers crossed, if we are back to some sort of normality, and then having that home run towards the back end of the group will be a good thing.

“If we are in the position to be challenging for qualification, then those fixtures towards the end will really help us with that home support.

“I have still not seen Northamptonshire in full flow on a Friday night for a T20 since I have been at the club, because of the Covid restrictions.

“So I am very, very much looking forward to getting that full support behind us because we know it can get loud, and make no mistake that extra support really works in our favour.

"So that final run-in of home fixtures could work wonders for us.”

As for the rest of the fixture list, Sadler is just pleased things are finally out there so he and his team can start planning for what’s to come.

“It is a hectic schedule, and for those guys who are going to play all formats it is going to be a busy summer, but we know that and we are preparing for that,” said the 40-year-old, who took over from David Ripley in October.

“The fixtures are good and it is nice to get them out, because it helps up to plan and prepare.

“We know it is going to be jam-packed, and it also sounds like we might have a (50-over) fixture on the Isle of Wight against Hampshire, so that will be a first.

“It is what it is, there is always travelling, there is a lot of staying away, but it is all part of the job and we are already building up to it.

“We are just looking forward to getting going.”

Northants will also play Gloucestershire as part of the annual Cheltenham Festival at the end of July, and Sadler added: “That will be another exciting week in the calendar.

“It gets well supported down there, it is a good pitch and they play some good cricket, and it is another we are looking forward to.

“At the moment we are still in the off-season phase, where the lads are sharpening their skills and exploring different bits, working on a little bit of technique and stuff.

“But once February comes and goes then we will be switching into building up for match mode and competition time, and it is exciting.”