Early start for Northants as they are handed Middlesex opener in County Championship

Northants head coach David Ripley
Northants head coach David Ripley

Northants will begin their 2019 Specsavers County Championship Division Two campaign with a home clash with Middlesex - starting on April 5.

The County’s first-class season actually begins in March, as they entertain Durham MCCU in a warm-up game starting on March 31.

After the opener against Middlesex, David Ripley’s men travel to Glamorgan for another four-day game on April 11, before the Championship takes a breather as the Royal London One Day Cup 50-over competition takes centre stage.

The Steelbacks kick that competition off with away games at Durham on April 17 and Derbyshire on April 19, before their first home game against the Birmingham Bears on April 21.

On April 24 the County head to Lancashire, before two home games against Worcestershire (April 26) and Yorkshire (May 1).

In between the Worcester and Yorkshire games, the Steelbacks will host Pakistan in a one-day game, as the tourists prepare for the One Day World Cup.

A trip to Grace Road to take on Leicestershire follows on May 4, before the group campaign is wrapped up at home to Notts Outlaws on May 6.

If the Steelbacks qualify for the semi-finals, they will be played on May 10 and 12, with the final scheduled for Lord’s on May 25.

Once the One Day Cup is out of the way, the Championship returns with a decent block of games.

Ripley’s team face a trip to Lancashire (May 14), home dates with Sussex (May 20) and Glamorgan (June 3), before heading north to Durham (June 10).

Further matches follow against Leicestershire at home (June 24), Sussex at Hove (June 30), Lancashire at home (July 7) and Derbyshire away (July 14) before things are put on hold for the T20 Blast.

There is of course familiar opposition in the T20, with the Steelbacks again in the North section.

The County start with a trip to Durham Jets on Friday, July 19, before going to Notts Outlaws on Wednesday, July 24.

The first home game is a Friday night date with the Birmingham Bears on July 26, and a couple of days later Yorkshire Vikings travel to Wantage Road on Sunday, July 28.

The Steelbacks are at home again to Derbyshire Falcons on Friday. August 2and then Durham Jets on Wednesday, August 7, before travelling to Grace Road to play Leicestershire Foxes on Friday, August 9.

On Sunday, August 11, it’s a trip to Worcestershire Royals before Lancashire Lightning come to the County Ground on Wednesay, August 14 with the Foxes also in town on Friday, August 16.

On August 23, the County go to Derbyshire Falcons before heading to Edgbaston to take on the Bears on Sunday, August 25.

Ripley’s team then go to another Test ground in Headingley to take on Yorkshire on Thursday. August 29 before wrapping up their group campaign with a home date against Worcestershire on Friday, August 30.

The quarter-finals will be played between September 4-7, with the finals day scheduled for Edgbaston on Saturday, September 21.

The Championship resumes briefly while the T20 is on, on August 18, when the County entertain Worcestershire, and they wrap up the four-day campaign with a trip to Leicestershire (Sept 10), a home game against Durham (Sept 16) and a clash at Gloucestershire (Spet 23).

Other fixtures already confirmed for the County Ground next summer are the Steelbacks taking on Australia A in a one-day match on June 20.

There are also two England women’s T20 internationals at Wantage Road, with Heather Knight’s team taking on West Indies in a double header, with the matches on June 18 and June 21.