Northamptonshire will get their one-day campaign up and running as they host Leicestershire at the County Ground this Thursday.
After a disappointing start to the season, Northamptonshire’s attention now turns to the Royal London One Day Cup, where they will be looking to kick start their season. Northamptonshire will be looking to stamp their mark down on the first 50 over match of the season.
A difficult start against Middlesex and two fixtures against Warwickshire did offer some promise however, particularly in the form of their bowling efforts.
New signings Brett Hutton and Luke Procter have chalked up an impressive number of wickets between them, while Northamptonshire stalwarts Ben Sanderson, Richard Gleeson and Steven Crook have also been amongst the wickets.
Leicestershire, on the other hand, have experienced a mixed bag of results coming into their first one-day game of the season. With one win, one loss and two draws to their name, the Foxes will have their tails up when they travel to the County Ground.
Leading Leicestershires attack stands Ben Raine, who is in good form, returning match figuresn of 6-86 and hitting a useful 65 in their recent championship match against Glamorgan. Raine was the star of the show as Leicestershire sealed a narrow 3 run victory over Glamorgan for their first win of the season.
Despite Leicestershire travelling to the County Ground off the back of their first win of the season, Northamptonshire will feel confident going into this fixture when taking their previous meetings with the Foxes into consideration.
Northamptonshire sealed two victories over Leicestershire last year, in both the Specasavers County Championship and in the Natwest T20 Blast.
Although the landscape for this fixture is slightly different than last year, the first match of the season between these two sides is shaping up to be very interesting.
Speaking ahead of Thursday’s fixture, Head Coach, David Ripley, says Northamptonshire’s early season form will not follow the side into their first white-ball fixture of the season.
“Leicester have started the season well and have a lot of experience, it will be a tough game but we know if we play our best white ball cricket we can beat anyone”
“The thing about Thursdays game is that the red ball cricket we have played will count for very little on the day. One of our issues has been to play too many shots and not bat time, but these are the same players who can change a game of white ball cricket very quickly”
With a sense of optimism circling around the club with white-ball cricket on the horizon, Ripley believes his side will relish the change of focus from County Championship cricket to One Day Cup action.
“The One Day Cup comes at a good time for us in terms of a change of focus. The timing could be better in terms of injuries missing, Gleeson, Buck and Newton, but I feel our squad can cope and the guys who start the campaign will have the chance to make the spot their own for the whole competition.”
Club Captain, Alex Wakely, believes the return of the One Day Cup can help Northamptonshire find their form in the County Championship.
“This year I thought we had the best squad for a long time and we could compete in all three formats,” said Wakely. “We need some momentum now in the One Day Cup, so when we return to the Championship, we’re feeling good and all it takes is one win and we’ll be back on a roll.
“There’s a lot of cricket to be played, it hasn’t gone to plan for the moment but we’re nowhere near halfway through the season, a couple of wins can quickly change things.”
To do so, Wakely and his batsmen will have to find form in a format where building an innings and developing partnerships are still as valuable as in the Championship.
“If you make the same mistakes time and again, it is a mental thing, no matter how much you convince yourself it isn’t,” Wakely said. “You’ve got to try and talk to as many other professionals as you can and use all the coaches available.
“We’re trying to change it, we’ve had plenty of meetings and talks among batting group. I don’t know what the answer is at the moment but we’ll keep going and do everything to turn it around.”