Ripley wants focus ahead of ‘massive’ Championship clash

Stephen Peters (right) should return to lead Northamptonshire in the game against Gloucestershire
Stephen Peters (right) should return to lead Northamptonshire in the game against Gloucestershire

“This is a massive game for us and we’ve got to make sure we’re up for it.”

That’s the view of Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley ahead of the LV= County Championship clash with Gloucestershire at the County Ground which starts tomorrow (Friday).

Two defeats in their past two outings, both to Lancashire, have knocked the County off top spot in the second tier but they still lie just eight points behind Glen Chapple’s side and 18 ahead of Essex in third.

That represents a decent position with six games remaining in the campaign and Ripley wants to maintain such a position going into the last few hectic weeks of the run-in.

He said: “This is a stand alone game inbetween all the one-day stuff and it’s massive for us.

“We’ve got five in six weeks coming up and we want to be in as good a position as we can be heading into those.

“Points in the bank count for a lot and they mean that other sides have to gamble to get results.

“But there are some good sides in the division, some of whom we’ve got to play, and our focus has to be as it has been throughout the season.”

Captain Stephen Peters, with a handful of Second XI appearances behind him having recovered from his broken finger, is expected to take his normal place at the top of the order with Matthew Spriegel likely to miss out.

Cameron White will make a second Championship appearance due to the club’s continued involvement in the Twenty20 and Andrew Hall, following an outing against Worcestershire on Tuesday night, will feature.

The same goes for the seam bowling pair of David Willey and Muhammad Azharullah who were given a rest in midweek.

A decision will have to be taken on David Sales’ involvement after his absence from the Twenty20.

The veteran batsman hit a big century for the seconds in midweek but has failed to make a half-century in the entire four-day campaign.

With James Middlebrook in the runs during the last game and Alex Wakely fit to return, a reshuffle of the top order could be on the cards.

Northants from: Peters, Coetzer, Sales, Wakely, Middlebrook, White, Hall, Murphy, Willey, Crook, Azharullah, Daggett, Stone.