The worst season in living memory for Northants produced the worst day’s play in living memory, with the team being bowled out TWICE by Durham in the space of 40 overs at The Emirates.
This is totally unacceptable.
I have had to tone down the column to keep it in print and online over the years, but there are plenty of expletives I have for the team right now.
Chris Rushworth’s astonishing match figures of 15 for 95 - in just 20 OVERS! - was the first time since 1939 that one man had taken 15 wickets in a day.
It was the best championship analysis since Martin Bicknell took 16 for 119 against Leicestershire in 2000.
If you re interested the championship record is 17-48 by Charlie Blythe’s.
Yep, it was against Northants.
It was the seventh best match bowling performance ever against us, and nine for 52 the 10th best in an innings against Northants.
It was the second best individual bowling performance for Durham, behind Otis Gibson taking all 10 in 2007, and ahead of Melvyn Betts’ nine for 62 in 1997 – also against Northants!
But it gets worse - Northants rejected Rushworth on a trial back in the day.
This appalling performance may simply be down to a bowler having his day, or hints of some sort of player unrest brewing after Stephen Peters’ shock captaincy sacking at the beginning of the week, and so ‘tensions’ with management.
This is all blind speculation, of course, but David Smith doesn’t seem to be making all his players happy.
Some of the shot selection against Durham seemed to suggest their mind wasn’t on cricket.
Earlier this year, David Willey refused to get rid of his facial hair until he returned to first-class cricket after that troubling back injury.
Well, if the Northants players had promised not to shave until they won a championship match this season, they would be looking like a bunch of bleary-eyed retired Klondike miners at the annual beard growing competition!
It has been rotten this season, and after this week it now looks certain Northants will be the worst performers in the history of division one cricket.
But chief executive Smith is not worried, and is crashing on with his ground improvement plans as the word is that another new stand is being considered, joining up the yellow seats with the blue seats - although if the West Stand is knocked down, please make sure it has a roof boss!
Sadly, there appears to be fewer plans for cover on the playing side of things in the championship, with Ripley’s ‘number one target’ Josh Cobb averaging just 24 in the second division and very much a one-day player.
It’s looking like Northants and Leicestershire are likely to be clunking broadswords for the wooden spoon next season.
If the two division system and the inevitable wage inflation that follows was set up to weaken the small counties to extinction and grow the big clubs, then it’s working.
Moving on to the Northants playing staff restructuring, is sacked captain Peters the next to go?
I feel, that in reality this youth plan the club seem to be going for is more cost-cutting, and is about dumping those experienced high earners rather than building a winning side.
In some ways this was Smith’s legacy at Leicester where he was chief executive before coming to Northampton.
There, the playing squad was trimmed and the ground built up, and look where they are now?
They haven’t won a first-class match for 30 months!
But we simply have no choice on our budget, and it’s hard to see how Northants will ever be competitive again in the first-class arena.
We must be getting near the point where the ECB simply won’t fund the second division as it is any more.
The best players are pressured to move to division one to chase England caps, and second division club’s squads get smaller and smaller to make ends meet, to the point where they simply can’t function, like Leicestershire.
Of those who did travel north for what should have been a dead rubber draw after the first day was washed out, it actually started well as Durham rocked on 110 for four, before posting a way above par 392 on a greenish pitch, which included yet another record partnership against Northants after Paul Collingwood and Scott Borthwick hit centuries.
This comfortably beat the old fifth-wicket record of 125, and passed the highest ever partnership for any wicket against Northants. That was, ironically, Wayne Larkins and Stewart Hutton’s 181 at the County Ground in 1995.
It wouldn’t be Northants this season without a record partnership.
It was the same old story in that the bowlers worked really hard with the new ball, but once it loses its shine they are innocuous.
Neil Wagner’s wayward five for 105 did make the members chuckle.
Whereas the bowlers are what they are, and so no real expectation from me, the batsmen have let me and the fans down big time, their pathetic response at Durham was worthy of one or two of them being sacked on the spot.
Kyle Coetzer and the always-injured Rob Newton have been woeful this year for instance, Coetzer managing just 100 runs, in 10 innings, an average of 10.
He has had more bogus hits than Milli Vanilli!
Totals of 83 and 90 for the two innings in the 219 run defeat are the club’s lowest scores ever against Durham, the final county of the 18 to knock us over for double figures.
We also have that first-class record, of 15 & 27 in 1908.
A total of 17 wickets going down after lunch and before tea was ridiculous.
But don’t forget the end of season club dinner folks - just £50 a ticket plus VAT!