Head coach David Ripley says Northants’ County Championship season is in danger of being ‘tarnished’ after his team were well beaten by seven wickets by Derbyshire in less than two-and-a-half days on Monday.
And Ripley also questioned his players’ mindset, hinting that some of them weren’t as up for the LV= Championship Division Two game as they should have been.
The four-day game against Derbyshire started at midday on Saturday, just hours after Friday night’s thrilling NatWest T20 Blast win over Yorkshire Vikings in front of 6,000 supporters at the County Ground.
Ripley says he felt his players were off the pace from the start, with their first innings performances with bat and ball their downfall.
“We were 80 runs too many in their innings with 50 extras and then 116 all out is nowhere where we wanted to be,” said Ripley, who has now seen his side comprehensively rolled over the in their past two Championship games, first at Gloucestershire, and now at home by Derbyshire.
“I don’t think we got up for this game as much as we should have done.
“That’s a little bit about us and a little bit about the schedule but that’s there for everybody.
“There’s now a danger that our season, which has been pretty good in the Championship until now, might be tarnished.
“Only a couple of games ago we were robbed by rain of a win at Lancashire, the best side in the division, and now we’ve had two disappointing defeats.”
Derbyshire secured their first victory at Wantage Road since 2002 shortly after lunch on the third day, chasing just 72 for their third win of the season.
The visitors controlled the LV= County Championship game from the first evening when they built up a first-innings total of 361.
Northamptonshire found no response, were bowled out for just 116 in reply - their lowest total of the season - and, despite a better fist of their second innings, gave Derbyshire only a small target to overcome.
For a while on the third morning, Northants were building their lead relatively comfortably through Ben Duckett (154) and Josh Cobb (35), but Wes Durston made the breakthrough and the final four wickets fell for just 25 runs.
Duckett and Cobb batted through the opening 75 minutes untroubled with Northants having begun the day with the scores level and four second-innings wicket remaining.
Duckett went through to a first-class best score, beating his previous best of 144 not out, made at Taunton last season, and brought up 150 in 206 balls.
But, trying to drive Durston, he edged a ball that bounced a little outside off and was caught at slip.
Another Durston delivery that bounced a touch took a wild edge from Rory Kleinveldt trying to play a lofted drive and looped to backward point.
Durston added a third wicket as Cobb heaved him to deep mid-wicket having struck his previous delivery for six over the same fielder.
Cobb had been comfortable in sharing a stand of 54 with Duckett and brought up the 300 by pulling Durston for four, but it was the off-spinner who mopped up the tail and just three deliveries of Mark Footitt with the second new ball were needed to finish the innings.
Coming out for three overs before lunch, Derbyshire lost Hamish Rutherford, sharply caught at gully second ball, and there was a nasty blow for Chesney Hughes, who was struck flush on the helmet by Kleinveldt - as a precaution, Hughes did not return to bat after lunch so it was left to Alex Hughes, whose first-innings century set the match up for Derbyshire, and Durston to complete victory.
Derbyshire lost two more wickets in the chase.
Their captain Wayne Madsen struck a beautiful off drive against Kleinveldt but, attempting to take a sharp singe into mid-wicket, was run out by Duckett, who threw down the non-striker’s end stumps.
Billy Godleman also edged debutant Ben Sanderson to first slip with 11 needed to win.
Northants slipped to a second consecutive heavy defeat, having lost at Cheltenham by nine wickets in their last Championship match.
They at least now have an extra day’s rest before their penultimate T20 at Edgbaston on Wednesday night - victory in one of Northants final two matches will secure a quarter-final spot.