Singapore trip is key for head coach Ripley as Northants prepare for return to top flight

Steven Crook, Northants chief executive Ray Payne, Scott McKechnie and David Ripley
Steven Crook, Northants chief executive Ray Payne, Scott McKechnie and David Ripley

Northants head coach David Ripley believes the club's pre-season trip to Singapore will play a major part in ensuring the players enjoy the best possible preparation ahead of their return to the top flight of English cricket in 2020.

The club officially announced on Wednesday that they have agreed a new partnership with the prestigious Singapore Cricket Club and the Singapore Cricket Association.

The Pedang Field at the Singapore Cricket Club (Picture: http://scc.org.sg)

The Pedang Field at the Singapore Cricket Club (Picture: http://scc.org.sg)

It is initially a three-year partnership, and the beginning of that assocation which will start with the Northants squad heading over to Singapore for a pre-season trip between March 9 and 20.

Ripley and his players will be aiming to maximise the chances of getting in some valuable outdoor practice and training in, before heading back to England to prepare for their opening Specsavers County Championship clash against Warwickshire at Edgbaston on April 19.

"It is more of a camp to be honest," said Ripley when asked about the trip to Singapore.

"We will be having two T20 matches on one day in the middle of the trip, and that will be against the Singapore Cricket Club, and they might have a couple of our guys in each game to give more of them a hit.

Padang Field at the Singapore Cricket Club (Picture: http://scc.org.sg)

Padang Field at the Singapore Cricket Club (Picture: http://scc.org.sg)

"Then, at the end of the trip we will have a two-day game amongst ourselves so that everybody is involved, although we will need a couple of guest players to make that work."

The County sit out the first round of Championship matches which begin on April 12, which has pleased Ripley who said: "The positive thing is that when we come back we still have quite a bit of time, as we are playing our Uni game first.

"So we have three days booked in at Nottingham, and then the following week we have three days booked in at Derby, and then we have our Uni game.

"So there is plenty of time for us catch up, and to get that competitive edge rather than having to get it all on our pre-season tour. Transitioning to the grass, and practise and fielding is what it is all going to be about."

Northants have branded the new partnership as ' the next stage of the club’s growing Global Partnership Strategy'.

It has been set up for former County all-rounder Steven Crook, who is now the club's sponsorships and partnership manager, and he said: “We’re really excited as a club to have forged this relationship with such an iconic and historic club, set in the centre of the city’s colonial heart.

"I’m not sure a county club has ever secured a partnership with an overseas club in the manner we have forged together for the next few years, and it’s going to be so so valuable for both parties.

"It’s an opportunity for us to grow the Northamptonshire and Steelbacks brand abroad, while we assist the Singapore Cricket Community with coach education and community outreach.”

As well as the Northants players training and getting some game time in, they and the coaching staff will also undertake a number of community engagement and coach education initiatives.

Singapore Cricket Club’s director of cricket is Scott McKechnie, who hails from Salford in Greater Manchester, and has played second team cricket for the likes of Kent, Gloucestershire and Durham, as well as played international cricket for Hong Kong.

He said: "We are delighted to partner with Northamptonshire County Cricket Club and thank them for their trust in this key initiative for Cricket across Singapore.

“Building professional partnerships with those operating at the elite level is essential for the onward progression and development of the game in Singapore.

"The Singapore Cricket Club will endeavour to support NCCC to the absolute best of our ability, in their pursuit of County successes onward from 2020 and look forward to building a relationship that will span the seasons.”