Northamptonshire County Cricket Club

Specsavers County Championship: Division 2 (2017 performance – 3rd)

Royal London One-Day Cup: North Group (2017 performance – 8th)

Vitality Blast: North Group (2017 performance – 6th)

Captain: Alex Wakely

Head coach: David Ripley

Overseas Players: Doug Bracewell, Rory Kleinveldt, Seekkuge Prasanna (T20)

OUT: David Murphy (retired), Azharullah (released)

IN: Brett Hutton (Notts), Luke Procter (Lancashire), Ricardo Vasconcelos (EU passport)

Man on a Mission: 

Richard Gleeson – The fast bowler has enjoyed a meteoric rise since being thrust into a first-class debut against the Australians in 2015. Genuinely quick, his wicket-taking ability first caught the eye in T20 but last season saw Gleeson add an impressive return with the red-ball. He was ushered into the England Lions, took a hat-trick for the MCC, and with pace a sought-after asset for any team, the journey from Minor Counties to international cricket in just four years could become a reality.

One to Watch:

Brett Hutton – His ability was never questioned by the Nottinghamshire management but their opportunities to pick him in a highly-successful side were limited. Hutton has arrived at Northamptonshire wanting more game time and among a smaller squad, is certain to get greater opportunities. He will add to David Ripley’s options in all forms of the game but his role as a bowling all-rounder looks a valuable asset for the county’s Championship side, where Northants hold promotion ambitions.

Local Hero:

Alex Wakely – Has become part of the furniture at Northants where his calm, intelligent leadership is forging a legacy at Wantage Road. In terms of trophies lifted, he is already the most successful captain in the club’s history and he will be eyeing further success with a talented squad who always appear to enjoy playing, in large part because of Wakely’s composed stewardship of the dressing room. His career may lack a great volume of runs, particularly in the County Championship, but he compensates as one of the shrewdest captains in the county game.

Prospects for 2018:

The greatest compliment to the progress Northamptonshire have made since their annus horribilis of 2014 is that they have become a side players want to play for. With a reputation as a close squad who play a positive brand of cricket with a sense of enjoyment, Northants are a bunch admired around the country. But they are serious about success and have compiled a squad set to be competitive across all three formats once again.

Their improvement in the Specsavers County Championship was born in the latter stages of the 2016 season and would have carried them to promotion last season but for a consistent failure to gain batting bonus points. The signing of Luke Procter from Lancashire was made with this in mind – he will provide more solidity in the batting order and act as a much-needed ballast for the strokemakers elsewhere in the order. Given enough runs, Northants have a bowling attack capable of bowling out any line-up, bolstered this year by Brett Hutton joining the club.

Hutton will also improve the Royal London One-Day Cup side, the competition where Northants failed to compete for the knockout stage last year hampered by a bad run of injuries. But a quarter-final appearance in 2016 suggests a run at qualification is possible.

And having made T20 their forte for several seasons, Northants will expect to qualify from the North Group. Seekkuge Prasanna’s legspin – badly-missed last season – will return some much-needed variety to their attack in the middle overs.