Ripley admits Northants batters at 'slight disadvantage' due to chopping and changing

Alex Wakely managed scores of just nine and two in the County's defeat to WorcestershireAlex Wakely managed scores of just nine and two in the County's defeat to Worcestershire
Alex Wakely managed scores of just nine and two in the County's defeat to Worcestershire
Northants head coach David Ripley has admitted the team and some of his batsmen may have been put at ‘a slight disadvantage’ with the selection policy in the Bob Willis Trophy.

From the moment the new one-off tournament was announced last month, Ripley made no secret of the fact he was going to use it as a development competition.

With Northants’ return to County Championship Division One put on hold for 12 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ripley wanted to experiment and give players chances to shine.

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When it comes to the bowling, the policy has been something of a success, with all of the seamers making their mark, but the batting has been more of a struggle as Northants have drawn one and lost two of their three games to date.

Emilio Gay, Charlie Thurston and Ben Curran are among the batters to be given chances, while senior players such as Alex Wakely, Richard Levi and Josh Cobb stayed sidelined.

Wakely and Levi were given first starts of the season in the 78-run defeat to Worcestershire, having not played any competitive cricket since last September.

They both struggled to make an impact, as have the batters in general for most of the summer so far.

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There were centuries for Adam Rossington and Luke Procter in the opening draw at Warwickshire, and there have also been half-centuries for Ricardo Vasconcelos, Curran and Thurston, but it has been slim pickings otherwise.

And Ripley admits the regular switching of the batting order may not have helped his team's cause.

“We have given ourselves a slight disadvantage by chopping and changing the batting,” said the head coach, who has used 16 different players in the County's three games so far.

“Yes, they are netting and have been practising since July 8, so from then until now they have had a lot of nets.

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“But if we use Alex Wakely as an example, if we had chosen to play him every game, he would now be on his sixth knock and he would be feeling he is getting closer to a score, having had more time in the middle.

“So it is difficult just to drop the players in.”

The introduction of Wakely and Levi was also done with one eye on the upcoming T20 competition, and the pair are likely to get another chance in this weekend’s Bob Willis clash with Glamorgan at the County Ground.

“We hoped to drop them into the game against Worcestershire for them to get some runs which would maybe benefit them going into the white ball cricket,” admitted Ripley.

“So we do have a plan, but at the moment when you are losing cricket matches it challenges you a little bit. I do still think it’s the right plan though, and come the T20 and, more importantly next year in division one, we hope we really get the benefit.”