Sadler believes Northants' squad competition is paying dividends

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​John Sadler believes the hot competition for places at Northants is driving up the standards of performance on the pitch.

And he admits selection is going to be tough, certainly among the batting group, for Friday's visit to Leicestershire in the Vitality County Championship Division Two.

Last season saw just four players score centuries across the whole 14-match Championship campaign.

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This summer, with three matches played, that number has already been surpassed, with five players hitting the three-figure mark already.

Northants head coach John SadlerNorthants head coach John Sadler
Northants head coach John Sadler

Emilio Gay and Karun Nair have registered double hundreds, while the others to pass the century mark are Ricardo Vasconcelos, James Sales and Saif Zaib.

"The competition for places is probably the biggest driver of performance, and we're seeing that now,” said Sadler.

"We're going to have to leave somebody else out next game that deserves to be playing and although it's a difficult conversation and frustrating for whoever that is, it's a brilliant place to be as a group and as a club.

"So, we're in a good place at the minute.

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"We just need to get our first win and we'll be off and running.”

George Barltett looks to be the player most vulnerable to miss out against the Foxes, having managed 42 runs in three innings so far, but it could be that Sadler will keep faith with his winter signing from Somerset.

Meanwhile, Sadler paid tribute to a quintet of players after the draw with Glamorgan.

Rain washed out day four to deny Northants the chance to see off the Welsh side, who were 104 for three in the second innings, still 230 adrift of the County’s first innings score of 605 for six.

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But there were many positives for Northants, with Ben Sanderson claiming a five-wicket haul as Glamorgan were bowled out for 271 first up, and then Nair, Vasconcelos, Zaib and Luke Procter all starring with the bat.

Nair hit an unbeaten double century, Vasconcelos a brilliant 182 and Zaib exactly 100, while skipper Procter hit 65 to record a third half-century in four innings so far this summer.

Sadler talked them all up, starting with veteran seamer Sanderson.

“Ben’s a magician,” said the head coach. “He's world class and one of the best in the country.

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"That's why we think if we'd have got even a session and a half in on Monday, we would have put them under some pressure. Sando can make things happen as he’s an absolute diamond.

“Proccy now has three 50s in four innings. He's had a great start and he's played under some pressure, in terms of conditions. So, he's been brilliant.

"I’m delighted for Vasco. He's had a bit of a journey, missed out on the first couple of games, but he's come back with a bang. When he's in full flow, there's nobody better to watch.

“Karun is absolutely world class. He's one of the best I've seen, obviously with his skillset, but also his calmness, his composure.

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“Then Saif, when he came in he changed the momentum of the game just by playing the way Saif plays.

"He's got the freedom to go and do that down the order. He's worked so hard, but he's also worked very hard on his bowling and his bowling now has really kicked on.”

The County now travel to Grace Road aiming to secure a first win of the season.

Like Northants, Leicestershire have drawn their opening three matches of the season, and they sit third in the table, one place and two points above Sadler’s side.