Wakely backing old pal Newton to 'score many more hundreds' following Northants departure

Alex Wakely is backing his close friend Rob Newton to bounce back from being released by Northants and go on to ‘score many more hundreds’ in his career.

Northants batsman Alex Wakely
Northants batsman Alex Wakely

It was announced last week that the 30-year-old will be allowed to leave Northants once his contract expires at the end of the current summer, bringing to an end a 15-year association with the club.

Newton and Wakely joined the County at around the same in the mid-2000s, and moved through the academy ranks and into the senior set-up together.

Wakely describes Newton as his ‘closest friend’ at Wantage Road, and admits he has been hit hard by the news that he will be leaving for pastures new, but the former Northants skipper is in no doubt that his pal will make his mark elsewhere.

Rob Newton will leave Northants at the end of this summer

“I am sad to see him going, because Rob was with me at the club from day one,” said Wakely, who joined the County when current head coach David Ripley was in charge of the academy youngsters.

“Me, Rips and Rob were together, from us being 13-year-olds, so we came all the way through and Rob is my closest friend at the club.

“I find it very difficult, and I know Rips does as well, and he was the one who had to tell Rob which I know must have been hard.

“But it is business, and it could be that because Rob has been injured that it has gone against him, but there is no doubt he is a proper cricketer, and I think somebody else will reap the benefits.

“He still has a future in the game, and I think he could play all formats.

“It is a sad day on a personal level, and it feels a bit like the changing of the guard.

“I have hopefully got a few more years left, but then when I go it will be all about the next generation.

“If Rob can keep himself fit, then I have no doubt that Rob can score many more hundreds.

“His cricket has got better and better over the years, he has got more and more mature, and I think he will go on from here.”

The County made the decision to announce Newton’s departure early, so as to give the player more time to try and find a new club in what are sure to be difficult times ahead for sportsmen thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus has hit the economy of all sports clubs hard, not just Northants, and Wakely is hoping Newton can quickly find a new home for his talents.

“With what is going on at the club at the moment, with Covid-19, it is hard and I think it is going to be something that is going to be across all sports, and players in the last year of their contracts are going to be under the pump a bit,” said the 31-year-old.

“I think if we hadn’t have had Covid-19, then I am sure Rob would still be here, and I am certainly going to miss him.

“But I would love to wish him luck elsewhere, and I am certain he will be successful.”