Ripley reflects on disappointing season for Northants

David Ripley saw his side endure a difficult season (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
David Ripley saw his side endure a difficult season (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

In the end, it was far from the season Northants players, supporters and coaches had hoped for.

The County were knocked out of the T20 and 50-over competitions with a whimper and finally finished second bottom of Specsavers County Championship Division Two.

Injuries hit hard and the batsmen often didn't, leaving head coach David Ripley disappointed about how 2018 panned out for his team.

"There's definitely disappointment in how the overall season went," said Ripley, who saw his side win just eight of their 36 matches in all competitions. "We were hoping for much better than what we delivered.

"The Championship season wasn't as bad because there are certainly games in there we should have won that would have given us six wins. That would have been more than we got in 2013 when we got promoted.

"Other teams were getting heavily beaten but that never really happened to us and we had some very competitive games that we lost.

"In the white-ball cricket, we were way down on our normal standards.

"Unfortunately we had one or two key injuries, which was a factor.

"Adam Rossington broke his thumb in a warm-up game before the T20s started and we had to rejig.

"Richard Gleeson wasn't fit until we were out of the competition.

"Those two were big players we had to go without and losing those kind of players in a small squad has a big impact.

"It's disappointing overall - we know we should have done better - but there were one or two factors that surrounded that.

"In terms of the Championship cricket, there were still some very positive things from our bowlers in particular. Ben Sanderson got 60 wickets and Brett Hutton supported him well.

"We had glimpses of Rory (Kleinveldt) and Richard Gleeson making good contributions.

"I would sum it up as not so bad in the Championship but disappointing in the white-ball."

Northants' frustrations about what happened on the field were exacerbated by what happened off it.

They lost Ben Duckett, to Nottinghamshire, and Richard Gleeson, to Lancashire, towards the end of the campaign.

And there is now a sizeable rebuilding process under way at the County Ground ahead of next season.

"We have to improve on where we were," Ripley said. "We don't want to be down the bottom and out of the competitions - we're better than that.

"Unfortunately, the season reinforces where we are in terms of a club in the great scheme of things.

"We lost two of our players who were picked off by other counties.

"Teams deemed second division clubs due to their lack of finance have their players picked off and it's very difficult to replace them.

"We've lost arguably our best batter and our best bowler and we can't go out and replace those players at the level they're operating at because players as good as that don't want to come and play for Northants - they want to be heading towards division one, Test match grounds and greater salaries.

"It's the reality of where we are and we're not alone. Gloucestershire have lost players, Leicestershire have lost players, Derbyshire have lost one or two in the past.

"It's the little gulf that appears between the more secure division one teams and the teams that are consistently down in division two for a while.

"It's not all gloomy. Worcestershire won the T20 this year but they did get relegated from division one, which we'd expect because of the things we've just talked about.

"They were in there scrapping with a couple of games to go to avoid the drop, but it isn't easy to compete with the division one teams and Test match grounds.

"I guess that's the frustration moving forward; how do we make ourselves into a division one club?

"It's not easy given the resources and income we've got, but we're still scrapping away to try to achieve it.

"The committee brought us back from the brink not that long ago - we were in a real hole - so it's no surprise we're not there yet.

"But our aim is to get there and really challenge consistently for those division one spots.

"In the short term, we're trying to get the best we can out of a small squad."