“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)
Time to reflect on the Steelbacks’ T20 campaign. Unfortunately, despite the return of David Willey and Chris Lynn, plus the signing of the experienced AJ Tye the side again fell short of reaching the quarter finals. Inconsistently again appeared to be the name of the game with, for example Derbyshire and Worcestershire beaten away but lost to at home. The last time Northamptonshire reached the last eight was in 2020 when all matches were played behind closed doors due to Covid. The Steelbacks faithful are long overdue something to cheer.
Things aren’t looking up in the County Championship either. The team will have to very much turn things round in the remaining matches. Sadly, it seems a matter of when relegation will be confirmed not if.
August brings the One Day Cup and a chance for Northamptonshire to rescue something from this season. You don’t need me to tell you that the team has not made much of an impact on this competition for some time. On the last occasion that the quarter finals were reached Northamptonshire finished on top of their group and it would be very nice to see a repeat in 2023
As most of you will know Former Northamptonshire scorer Tony Kingston died in July. Of course, Tony was so much more than a scorer as was recognised just a few weeks before his death with the award of the British Empire Medal in the King’s Birthday Honours. His contribution to Northamptonshire CCC and to local sport was immense. Tony will be much missed. RIP Kingo.
Justin Broad has signed a deal with Northamptonshire until the end of next season. The 22-year-old was born at Cape Town and attended Rondebosch High School which also numbers Jonathan Trott and the Kirsten bothers amongst its former pupils. Broad has represented Germany in international cricket and played for Bury St Edmunds CC, Esher CC, as well as Surrey 2nd XI before impressing with a string of good scores for Northamptonshire Seconds. Broad made his T20 in June and his County Championship debut in July.
On Sunday 13th August the County Ground will play host to the ECB African Caribbean Cricket Festival commencing at 10am. There will be two T20 matches. The first sees a Norman Cowans XI take on a David Lawrence XI, this will be followed by an ACE Academy XI versus Barbuda U19. There will also be African Caribbean food stalls, live music and a DJ.
Saif Zaib was awarded a wild card call up for The Hundred joining Northern Superchargers. David Willey had previously been signed by Welsh Fire. In the Women’s Hundred Northamptonshire and Sunrisers all-rounder Jo Gardner will join Trent Rockets.
Sam Whiteman did not bat in the second innings of the County Championship match against Somerset at the County Ground due to being present at the birth of his third child.
Yorkshire seam bowler Dom Leech briefly joined Northamptonshire on loan for the County Championship match against Lancashire at Old Trafford in late July.
SUPPORTERS CLUB PLAYER OF THE SEASON 2023
The time is fast approaching for you to choose your Player of the Season. Just a reminder that voting is open to all fully paid-up members of Northamptonshire County Cricket Supporters Club. Voting slips will be available in the Signalbox and via email.
Voting will open on 16th August (the date of the One Day Cup match against Worcestershire) and close on 6th September (the scheduled final day of the County Championship match against Lancashire). We will aim to present the winner with his trophy during the final County Championship match of the season against Essex.
NUMBER 219 REMEMBERED- LEO BENNETT
For someone who made only 16 first class appearances for Northamptonshire the story of Major Alfred Charles Leopold Bennett MBE is an interesting one.
Born at West Norwood on the last day of 1914 Bennett made a number of appearances for Surrey Second Eleven in 1937. In 1943 he was commissioned into the Royal Fusiliers and later served in the Worcestershire Regiment. He was awarded the MBE in 1945 for his war service.
In 1946 Surrey were casting around for an amateur to captain them in the first post-war season. They decided to appoint a Major Bennett who had played pre-war second eleven cricket for them. However instead of Leo they contacted Major Nigel Harvie Bennett who accepted the offer. (Nigel Bennett captained Surrey in 31 matches in his only County Championship season. He averaged 16 with the bat and Surrey finished in 11th place – their worst finish at the time.)
Leo Bennett captained the BBC team in Club cricket and was first selected for Northamptonshire against the South Africans in June 1947. His most successful match was against Nottinghamshire at the County Ground later that season when he scored 56 and 68.
Before Freddie Brown came to Northamptonshire Bennett might have been a captaincy candidate for his adopted county, having indicated his availability take on the role. As it was his final County appearance was against Essex in July 1949.
He continued in Club cricket, captaining the Lord’s Taverners as late as 1963. In 1951 he published the book The Weekend Cricketer. Bennett died at Thames Ditton, Surrey on 24th September 1971 at the relatively young age of 56.
Facing Glamorgan at Newport in a T20 match Justin Broad (65) top scored as Northants made 158-5. But the home side easily overhauled this with 17th over with eight wickets to spare.
Against Somerset at Taunton Vale Broad (62) again top scored as Northants totalled 200-8. The match went down to the last ball, but the home side won by three wickets. Broad (57*) again top scored in a total of 172-7 in the second match but again Somerset claimed victory by five wickets with nine balls to spare.
Another day and another pair of T20 matches away for the Seconds – Gloucestershire were the opposition and Cheltenham College was the venue. In the opener A Miller took 4-39 as the home team were bowled out for 174. Azad hit 67 as a five-wicket win was claimed with a ball to spare. The second match saw ‘normal service’ resumed as Broad (45) yet again top scored in a total of 186-8. However, Gloucestershire won by five wickets in the 19th over.
The T20 competition ended with a heavy defeat at the hands of Glamorgan at Stowe School in early June. The Welsh side made 209-5 and Northamptonshire could only reply with 124.
The Seconds returned to Championship action against Gloucestershire at Rockhampton. Winning the toss and batting a century from Azad (146) and 57 from Broad took Northants to 329. Gloucestershire were then bundled out for 134 with White taking 3-18 and Wightman 3-32. Broad hit 59 in a total of 272 in the second innings. Chasing an unlikely 468 Gloucestershire were dismissed for 182, White (3-30) and Wightman (3-18) this time being joined in the wickets by Alex Russell (3-38). The victory margin was 285 runs.
Rain impacted the next Championship match at Weetwood Sports Ground in Leeds against Yorkshire. Several first teamers we’re given a run out and Luke Procter hit 141 with R Upadhyay (123) also making a century Northamptonshire reached 424 for 8 declared. When play was called off on the last day Yorkshire had made 339-7 in reply.
In early July Worcestershire were the visitors to Geddington for the next Championship match. Worcestershire won the toss and batted making 392-8. In reply Northants totalled only 155 with 51 of them coming from A H Miller.
Following on the County made 254 with Azad hitting 51 and Broad 69. Left just 18 to win Worcestershire reached their modest victory target in the 6th over without losing a wicket.
In early May Northamptonshire travelled to Billericay to face Essex in a pair of T20 matches. Both were low scoring with the first one seeing Northamptonshire contained to 68 for 9. Essex reached their modest victory target for the loss of five wickets in the 17th over. The second match saw the tables turned with Essex kept to 84 for 9. Jodi Grewcock (44*) led the way to a seven wicket win in the 19th over.
Felsted School was the venue for the final’s day of the Women’s T20 Group 7 competition. Suffolk were Northamptonshire’s semi finals opponents. Batting first Northants totalled 155 for 3 Josie Groves scoring 68. Suffolk were bowled out for 76 were Anje Lague taking 3-5 in her 4 overs.
The final pitched Northamptonshire against Hertfordshire. Herts were dismissed for 65 with Alicia Presland taking 3-8. Northants took 12 overs to reach their victory target for the loss of five wickets with Jo Gardner hitting an unbeaten 29.
Spring Bank Holiday Monday brought a friendly match against Grace’s CC (who are an LGBT + club) at Broxbourne. Graces made 200 for 9 in 40 overs with Holly Hammond- Lewis taking 4-25. Poppy Smart hit 71 but Northants could only reach 188 for 7.
Northamptonshire took on Leicestershire in a 20 over Friendly in late June. Leicestershire made 113-4 in their 20 overs. However, Northamptonshire were contained to 101 for 6.
Northamptonshire’s failure to reach the quarter finals of the T20 Blast was again mainly down to their poor home form. In the 365 days from June 22nd, 2022, to June 21st, 2023, nine matches were played in this competition at Wantage Road with the home side gaining two wins and suffering seven defeats.
Home advantage has been crucial when Northampton has staged the last three T20 quarter finals. However in recent times the zonal matches have often been a damp squib with hardly any close finishes to enthuse the Wantage Road crowd.
Chris Lynn and David Willey together at the County Ground was a mouth-watering prospect but the batting unit has failed to deliver on home soil on the shortest format on a regular basis.
The Batting Coach not only has a massive job on his hands to improve his players’ performance in the white ball game but securing one batting point when 28 were available in the first half of the season suggests that this department also requires radical change.
RAFFLE AND TOMBOLA 2023
The Supporters Club raffle will take place on Sunday 20th August during the 50-over match against Derbyshire. This year’s Tombola will take place on Sunday 3rd September during the first day of the County Championship match against Lancashire. We look forward to your patronage of both these.
This is a reminder that from now onwards we are no longer able to accept the following items: CDs, DVDs, videos, audio cassettes, magazines (including cricket), Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, Mills and Boon / Harlequin/ Silhouette novels, hardback books- except for cricket or any other sports related.
The Supporters Club lunches will return on Thursday 26th October with the remaining lunches of this year to take place on Thursday 30th November and Thursday 14th December. Details of guest speakers, price, etc will appear in the October newsletter.
August 2023 marks the tenth anniversary of Northamptonshire’s first Twenty20 Cup win and therefore this quiz looks back to this triumph.
1. Who sponsored the competition?
2. Which County were the only team to beat The Steelbacks at the County Ground?
3. Who hit a century against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham?
4. Which future England International played in the final but did not bat or bowl in it?
5. And which player faced his former County in the final (and also did not bat or bowl!)
6. Which two bowlers claimed over 20 wickets apiece in the competition?
Answers: 1. Friends Provident, 2. Worcestershire, 3. Richard Levi, 4. Ben Duckett, 5. Matthew Spriegel, 6. Azharullah and David Willey.