VIEW FROM THE BLUES: Party time as Northants seal deserved promotion

VICTORY PARADE - the Northants players and coaching staff enjoy their open top bus parade in Northampton last weekend
VICTORY PARADE - the Northants players and coaching staff enjoy their open top bus parade in Northampton last weekend
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Well, we are up and it was never in doubt (cough).

The boys paraded their silverware on top of the bus, which was the biggest thrill as the Cobblers head to the Skrill!

What a difference a year makes in local sport!

But with just one win in the last nine games, the County did rather limp over the line, and without Trent Copeland and the deep batting failsafe over the season, it would not have been pretty.

If you need a batting point draw to go up, then New Road is not the place, especially on a used pitch in late September.

But if you need a result it certainly is the place, Worcestershire taking advantage of a somewhat inebriated Northants mid-match to win with a day to spare, that amazing promotion secured elsewhere as a surprisingly under strength Essex folded at Hampshire.

They bizarrely rested Masters and Topley, who have 100 wickets between them, and with Ryan ten Doeschate, who hit that evil promotion stealing ton in 2009 of course, allowed to play in the Champions League for Otago Volts, and Ravi Bopara also rested, it was all very odd.

Could those changes be guilt over that game in 2009?

I would like to think so. We are even now, either way.

Derbyshire and Surrey coming down made the week a whole lot better still.

A menacing autumnal fog lingered over New Road as Stephen Peters took his men over the trench and into battle one last time, not knowing exactly where the musket and cannon fire would come from over the next four days.

They say in these parts that the first hour of the day would deliver that barrage and it proved the case, four down early after Peters stuck Worceser in.

As expected those batting points were hard to come by and Worcester were skittled early afternoon for 163, Andrew Hall claiming five for 30, a perfect pitch for his nippy seamers with the keeper up.

But when it’s a lively here the other team is going to lose wickets, and Northants were 203 all out, the magic 250 that would trigger promotion not to be.

Old man Alan Richardson claimed yet another five-for, and he now has 250 wickets since his 34th birthday for Worcester.

A pugnacious fifty by Rob Keogh earned that first innings lead and probably decided Essex’s fate, a massive innings by a potential player here.

It was better news at the Ageas Bowl as that depleted Essex attack labored, Hampshire flaying 456, Essex claiming the final bowling point as the dewy cobwebs on the outfield began to catch the late watery September sunshine.

Bearing in mind that Derbyshire scored 474 in the first innings of that match in 2009 against Essex and lost in that outrageous run chase, Northants fans were right to be reticent.

Poor old Trevor Bailey of the Supporters Club was pulling his final hairs out at New Road.

A total of 200-up for Northants meant Essex needed at least 350 and a score that would trigger their eventual run chase after passing the follow on.

We didn’t want that.

But at Hampshire the fight had gone and they tumbled away to 207 all out, Monty Panesar fittingly skying the catch that would seal Northants’ fabulous promotion at 4.30pm on day two.

It wasn’t quite as thrilling a moment as the Twenty20 heroics, but good all the same.

Cue the players’ five-day bender!

From then on in, not surprisingly, Northants lost interest and Worcestershire piled up a lead on an increasingly unstable turner for 295 all out.

With the open top bus booked, this game was only ever going to finish early, Northants slogging out on day three for 143 chasing that 257, setting the new LVC championship record of 18 LBWs in a match in the process, beating the old record of 17, Northants again, Mark Illot taking that remarkable LBW hatrick at Luton.

It would have been all too frantic to leave New Road at half-five on Friday to get back to Northampton by six and dig out the comedy breasts in time, and so the boys inevitably going out with a whimper here, Ricardo getting his bus driver permit just in time - but not called upon.

Northants finished clear in second on 203 points, which I reckon is about the same as they drank on the Wednesday night, hence the stuffing at New Road.

Essex were also crushed inside three days, and what Essex fans think of their team selection doesn’t bear thinking about.

Team wise over the season, I think it’s fair to say that Matthew Spriegel won’t be on the front cover of the Wisden Almanac come Christmas, and his bowling is sure to get massacred in division one.

The mystery in his spin is why he ever gets in the team!

I’m not the cruel View From The Blues any more, so will accept he was in the side because he’s a good bloke and that’s okay, apparently.

Sad to see Christian Davis and Con de Lange have not been offered deals as potential there, Con particularly unlucky with injury and a far better cricketer than Spriegel.

But the facts are we could not have gone up without Copeland and his five wins and six draws when present (2 draws and 3 defeats when back home) are all you need to know what type of expensive quality bowling we are short on now and so has to be paid for from the current squad budget.

The Madness concert had lower overheads compared to Elton John and is set to raise around £75,000, matching the amount for second place in LVC2.

So maybe there is enough money there to invest in critical top quality spin and two experienced seamers.

Maybe we could take a risk with guys like Ollie Freckingham at Leicester and Charlie Shreck at Kent that may not fancy another season at the bottom of LVC2.

But a penny for the thoughts of Luke Evans, not bowling an important ball all season, picking up all the champagne corks and ring pulls on the bus after not being given a chance to prove himself.