This past Sunday saw the Northamptonshire 2nd XI come up against international opposition in Milton Keynes in the shape of one of the ICC’s newest full member nations, Afghanistan.

The visitors were using the game as a warm-up for their upcoming T20 and One Day International series against Ireland, and are adding new players all the time to the group that is accruing experience at the highest level.

Meanwhile the hosts used the day to give more game time in the format to the likes of Ben Curran and Charlie Thurston – both fresh from their Vitality Blast debuts during the previous week – along with Tom Sole, Gareth Wade and Saif Zaib.

The international team got two wins from the two games, but according to Performance Coach Luke Swann it was still a worthwhile afternoon.

“Afghanistan have got some very fine players who have performed in One Day Internationals and it was a good opportunity for some of our younger players to play against guys who play a very aggressive brand of cricket – they literally swing at it from ball one,” he said.

“They pitched themselves against a team who they wouldn’t otherwise have played against, and it was intense playing two T20s back-to-back – there wasn’t a massive amount of breathing space between the two – and to play against players who have had success in the past and who have recently been granted Test status.”

The Northamptonshire 2nd XI will be coming up against more international opposition next month when they play Scotland in a three-day game, also at Campbell Park.

“Scotland is an opposition who we’ve played against a number of times in the past few years in the three-day format,” Swann added. “They’re an associate nation and are focused on the white ball format, and they’ve played some good white ball cricket in the last 12 months to two years. And while we might be able to field guys with more experience in the red ball format all of the top Scottish players play in the professional competitions, so it will be a good test for us.”

The Northamptonshire 2nd XI game against Scotland will be played between September 4th and 6th.