Head coach Sadler focusing on evolution not revolution at Northamptonshire

John Sadler is focusing on evolution rather than revolution as he sets about the process of replacing David Ripley as the head coach at Northamptonshire.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 7:23 am
New Northants head coach John Sadler

The 39-year-old took over the reins at the County Ground at the end of September, with Ripley having stepped down after 10 years at the helm following the final match of the 2021 season, at Essex.

Sadler is preparing for the return of the players to training next month, and is looking forward to the task ahead - although he admits there is plenty that isn’t broken at Wantage Road, and won’t need fixing.

The former Derbyshire and Leicestershire player has been part of the furniture at Northants for the past 18 months, having been assistant to Ripley as well as the club’s batting coach in that time.

John Sadler (left) and assistant Chris Liddle (centre) have spent the past two seasons working under the leadership of David Ripley

He has previously enjoyed short stints as head coach at both Derbyshire and Leicestershire, and now he is in the hot seat at Northampton he will be putting his own stamp on things.

But he has confirmed doesn’t intend on rocking too many boats as there simply isn’t the need.

“There are a few ideas I have, and potentially I do want to do things differently, but there are already some fantastic things that go on here at Northants that are existing,” said Sadler.

“So it is not a case of changing everything, it is a case of just adding little bits to what is already in place.

John Sadler has previously enjoyed short stints as temporary head coach at Derbyshire and Leicestershire

“I am sure that over time things will develop and evolve a little bit and that may seem different, but I have to put my own spin on it once we get cracking.”

It is obviously very, very early days of the Sadler reign, but he is already enjoying the role.

“I am delighted and it has been great,” said the Yorkshireman.

“I have had some nice messages and good wishes, and I feel I am very supported by everybody at the club, which is nice.

John Sadler hits out during his playing days at Derbyshire

“I am really pleased with the management team that we are assembling, and we already have a new physio in place who is a brilliant acquisition for us, and at the minute we are advertising for a batting coach, and it has all been good.

“October is normally a month that you can chill out and switch off and the last thing you want to do is talk about cricket, but this October is very different for me for obvious reasons.

“I am loving having a bit of time to just kind of sit and reflect, and plan and have discussions and meetings with people, and to try and sort a few things out behind the scenes, ready for when we report back and get cracking.

“So it has been a different October, but it has been great.”

Sadler admits that the fact he has been at the club since January 2020 has made life easier for him as he steps up to head coach, and means he can just

concentrate on onfield matters.

“I think anybody else coming in, it would take at least 12 months to get a feel for the club, and a feel for the players,” he said.

“I have been able to build some brilliant relationships with all of the players, with the rest of the management team, with the Academy director, with the people further up, the director of cricket, the chairman, everybody.

“I have got relationships with people throughout which is a good thing, and I have now had two seasons and 18 months of observations under my belt, about how the club functions and certain areas that we could potentially upgrade a little bit.

“It is a really exciting transition, and exciting time ahead and I am looking forward to getting started.”

The players will return for the start of pre-season in mid-November, and Sadler said: “As I have said, a lot of things that exist at Northants are very good, so there are not necessarily going to be drastic changes, and certainly not in November and December when it is low key.

“There will be the option for people to do a little bit of skill work if that is what the players want, but the focus will be on fitness in that period of the year.

“It is all about getting yourselves in good shape to come back in January and then we turn the volume up a bit on the cricket skills in the build up through pre-season.

“It will get a bit more intense after Christmas.”

There was a time in the not so distant past when cricketers would literally finish the season and then enjoy five months off and away from the club before returning for pre-season.

But that is not the case now, and Sadler is delighted the sport has moved on in that regard.

“The 12-month contracts mean that we have more control and the players have got more support over the winter months, and looking after their bodies,” he said.

“That has been a brilliant thing from the ECB and the PCA (Professional Cricketers’ Association) in English cricket that the lads are now all under 12-month contracts which means we can give more guidance and support and control them a little bit more over the winter.

“It certainly seems a long time ago that you could switch off at the end of the season and say see you in March when you would go for a three-mile run and that was about it!”