New Northants assistant coach John Sadler admits it is ‘really exciting’ to be making a fresh start at the County Ground - and he can’t wait to work with a squad with ‘a huge amount of talent’.
Sadler takes over from head coach David Ripley’s previous number two, Phil Rowe, who announced he was leaving last summer and quit the club at the end of December, and will also take on the role as lead batting coach.
The 38-year-old makes the switch from County rivals and neighbours Leicestershire, where he was assistant and lead batting coach to Paul Nixon at Grace Road, and Sadler has also previously coached at Derbyshire, including a stint as interim head coach in 2016.
A left-handed batsman throughout a 12-year playing career, Sadler played for both Derbyshire and the Foxes, as well as his native Yorkshire, and he is excited about the challenge of working in totally new surroundings at Northants.
“I am excited to come here, having never played for the club,” said Sadler.
“Everywhere I had coached before, I had played there and knew what the club was about, whereas now I am coming in completely fresh.
“I am open-minded as to how it is going to be, and it is really exciting.
“It is nice to come in and get a real feel for the club, what goes on behind the scenes, and so far, so good.”
Sadler had been a coach at Leicestershire for three seasons, and with him also having played for the club for five years, he admitted it was a tough call to depart Grace Road.
“It is never an easy decision to leave somewhere when you are emotionally connected,” said Sadler.
“I had played at Leicestershire, had some good friendships there, got to know some good people, and worked with the lads as well.
“And when you work closely with the lads, you are really on their journey with them.
“So it is never easy to leave anywhere, but I think the opportunity down here is a good one.
“There is the level of talent that there is in the squad, Rips is obviously a great man that I am looking forward to working with and learning from, and the first division is a huge pull as well.
“I just felt that the opportunity to come down and be part of this was one that was too good to turn down.”
Sadler started work at Wantage Road on January 6, so what have been his first impressions?
“The first impressions are is that there is a huge amount of talent here, and there is a really good vibe here,” said Sadler, who was born in Dewsbury in west Yorkshire.
“Getting promoted helps with that, and there is bound to be a good vibe around the whole club from that, not just the playing squad, and when you go in the offices, everybody is chirpy and full of beans, which is great.
“But on the playing side there is a huge amount of talent, and I am looking forward to hopefully having a bit of a positive impact and trying to support them as best as I can.
“It is club that is in a really good place, hopefully we can keep on getting better, and I am really excited to be a part of that.”
Sadler joins a club that finished second in Specsavers County Championship Division Two last season, and are looking forward to their first season in the top flight since 2015.
As lead batting coach, Sadler will be overseeing a County batting line-up that is full of experienced players, such as Alex Wakely, Josh Cobb, Adam Rossington, Rob Keogh, Richard Levi and Rob Newton, as well as sprinkling of younger players, such as Ricardo Vasconcelos and Ben Curran.
And Sadler says he will be taking a subtle approach to his new role.
“I think the key is the players leading it themselves,” said Sadler, when asked what being a batting coach entails.
“They have had a lot of success, otherwise they wouldn’t be playing here right now.
“So they have had success, particularly the senior players, and they should know their own game better than anybody.
“Players have to be their own best coach I suppose, and if I suggest something and the player doesn’t buy into it, then there is no point in pursuing that.
“It has to be led by the player, they know their game, so as I say I am not going to come in and make drastic changes, particularly if something is not broken.
“If it’s not broken, then I am not going to try to fix it.”