Ben Sanderson says that the Northamptonshire squad is going into the 2019 season full of motivation to get back to the heights the club has enjoyed over the previous few seasons.
After reaching the Vitality Blast Finals Day in 2015, winning the same competition in 2016 and then coming within a whisker of Specsavers County Championship promotion the team did not match those results in 2018.
But Sanderson is a firm believer that there is the talent and dedication at the County Ground for the team to achieve its ambitions over the next few months.
“We’re looking good as a squad and I think we’ve recruited quite well, both with the overseas players as well as the couple of players we’ve brought in,” he says. “People have got the bit between their teeth as well after last season, when it didn’t go as well as we wanted.
“It’s massive motivation. No one wants a season like we had last year. We had a three-year period when we did really well, getting to the Blast Finals Day, then winning it, then coming close to getting promotion, so we’ve had that success followed by a dip last year.
“All good teams have that at some point, it’s about how you react and get back up. Hopefully we’ll react in the right way and everyone pulls together.”
Sanderson’s own performances certainly caught the eye in 2018, with the bowler taking his 150th First Class wicket, being awarded his County Cap and taking home a trio of End of Season Awards, namely the Media, County Championship and Players’ Player of the Year gongs.
He may have received the personal plaudits but Sanderson was eager to praise his bowling partner Brett Hutton.
“I enjoyed my role last year, especially in red ball cricket when Wakers sometimes struggles to get the ball out of my hands,” he says.
“I like red ball cricket because you can get into a rhythm, and it’s been good to have Brett [Hutton] at the other end. He’s very economical as well, which means that the batsmen have to take a bit of a risk against one of us. We dovetail well with each other and he had a good year as well.
“We’re very similar bowlers in red ball, so it’s easier for us to bowl at the top of off stump and then mix the ball around a bit. We keep it tight and then get our rewards.
“In white ball cricket you’ve got to be fitter, to run in and keep your optimum pace up. That’s what I’ve been working on this winter, getting stronger and fitter to help me be more consistent.
“We’ve not always been lucky enough to have all our bowlers fit at the same time. We’ve been patching people up in the past, whereas hopefully with everyone being a bit fitter this year Rips might have a few decisions to make!”
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