“Let’s have some new clichés.”

Samuel Goldwyn (1882-1974) American film maker.

Such is the expansion of the domestic cricket season that Northamptonshire’s season is set to begin just eight weeks after I write these words with the visit of Oxford UCCE on Tuesday 26th March. Time was when our April newsletter was able to preview the season, now in 2024 it will be underway before the clocks change.  Whether this is a good thing or not depends on your point of view.  Watching cricket is always more pleasurable on warm summer days. Doing so in chilly early Spring is perhaps less so. Nevertheless, it is what we have.

One good thing about being in Division Two of the Championship is that we know that all 7 opponents will be faced both home and away. Between trips to Hove in April and Leeds in September we will know our fate. With Yorkshire aiming to return to Division One and several other teams making a number of signings it will be a competitive season. For Northamptonshire the question will be how well our new signings fit in. Certainly, there is the potential for the County to have a handy seam bowling group.  But will this potential be realised? Best wishes for the forthcoming season.

BILL HORSLEY

From Thursday 25th July to Sunday 8th September the County Ground is scheduled to stage just three days when the Northamptonshire First Eleven will be playing. That means a period of 46 days will see the County’s senior team not in action on 43 days at Wantage Road.

The three days when Northants will be playing at home during that period is condensed into the eight days from 4th to 11th August.  How is it possible to attract children to County Cricket when there are few opportunities to watch the game during the six-week summer holidays?

JOHN CLARK

News

Greg Smith has been appointed as Northamptonshire’s new Batting Coach. Born in South Africa Smith played county cricket for both Derbyshire and Essex. Former Northamptonshire Batting Coach has taken up a similar role with Derbyshire replacing Ian Bell.

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Chris Tremain will return to Northamptonshire for the first four rounds of County Championship matches in 2024. The 32-year-old Australian seam bowler claimed 13 wickets in his three matches in 2023. He has also had a successful season in domestic cricket in his native land.

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Jack White has signed a new contract which will see him remain with Northamptonshire until the end of the 2025 season.

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Ollie Sale has announced his retirement from cricket.  The 28-year-old joined Northamptonshire from Somerset last year, but injury has prevented him from making any appearances for his new county.

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Former Northamptonshire cricketer Peter Watts died in December at the age of 85. He was the older brother of former Northamptonshire captain Jim Watts. Peter played for his native Bedfordshire in the Minor Counties Championship in 1955 before joining Northamptonshire a year later.  He made his debut in 1958, whilst two years later he was a member of the Second Eleven which won their Championship. Peter remained with the county until the end of the 1966 season before joining Nottinghamshire for a year.  He then returned to Minor Counties cricket firstly with Shropshire and then Bedfordshire. In total for his two first-class Counties, he made a total of 183 first-class and 7 limited overs appearances.

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Josh Cobb has left Northamptonshire by mutual consent with a year of his contract still left to run.  The 33-year-old was Man of the Match when the Steelbacks won the T20 Blast for the second time in 2016. He is also a former T20 captain of the County before being replaced by David Willey last season.

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The South Asia Cricket Academy (SACA) will face Northamptonshire in a three-day friendly match at to be confirmed venue on 12th to 14th August.

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Northamptonshire have signed Sikander Raza for the 2024 T20 Blast. Although born in Pakistan Raza plays for and captains the Zimbabwe T20 side. The 37-year-old has not previously played county cricket but has appeared for 17 teams across the world as well as league cricket in Lancashire and Scotland.

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Former Premier League Chairman Gary Hoffman has joined the Northamptonshire board.

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Lewis McManus has signed a new contract which will keep him with Northamptonshire until the end of the 2025 season.

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Indian batter Karun Nair will re-join Northamptonshire for the first seven Championship matches of the 2024 season.  The 32-year-old hit 249 runs in three matches at the end of 2023 including 150 against Surrey at The Oval.

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE WOMEN

And so, after a bit (!) of a gap let’s conclude our look back at Northamptonshire Women’s 2023 season.

In mid August the team travelled to Felsted School to compete in T20 tournament.  On the Friday Middlesex were held to 116-8. Northants easily reached their target with Jodi Grewcock (38*) and Florence Miller (49*) adding an unbroken 104 for the second wicket.  On the same day Sunrisers Academy were bowled out for 90 with Anje Lague taking 4-13. Another victory was achieved but with far more of a struggle, no one making more than Grewcock’s 12 in a score of 91-8.

Saturday 19th August saw Middlesex again well contained to78-7, Grewcock taking 2-11 and Bethan Solomon 2-12. Grewcock then again top scored with 32 not out adding 64 for the second wicket with Miller (30) in eight wickets win. Their final match saw the team trounced by Essex who made 152-6 despite Lague’s 3-19. Grewcock (20) and Amelia Kemp (16) opened with a 33-run partnership, but the side then collapsed to 57 all out.

SECOND ELEVEN 2023

Northamptonshire’s Second Eleven continued their Championship campaign with a visit to Edgbaston Community Ground in mid July. Winning the toss and batting the visitors declared at 237-9 James Sales top scoring with 70. Warwickshire replied with a daunting 512. Hassan Azad was unable to bat in the second innings and Northamptonshire collapsed to 192 all out to lose by the hefty margin of an innings and 83 runs.

Their next Championship match saw Leicestershire welcomed to the County Ground. Put in Northamptonshire were bowled out for 152 with Arush Buchake (54) the only batter to pass fifty. Raphael Wetherall claimed 6-37 as Leicestershire were dismissed for 198. However, Northamptonshire were unable to capitalise on this totalling just 109 in their second innings, Aug Rakar (47) providing the major resistance. Leicestershire knocked off the 64 they needed for the loss of just two wickets.

In the first of a series of friendlies Northamptonshire totalled 305 against London Schools Cricket Association with Privthi Shaw making 65 and Hassan Azad 113.

At Dunstable the South Asia Cricket Association made 325 for 7 in their 50 overs.  Josh Cobb hit 157 from 95 balls including 12 fours and 11 sixes. Northants won by six wickets in the 45th over.

In a 45 over match at Finchley London Schools made 146-6. Northamptonshire’s target was revised to 146 off 29 overs. Azad (88*) and Nico Riefer (51*) took their team to a ten-wicket win.

Returning to Championship action Northamptonshire faced Glamorgan at Campbell Park, Milton Keynes in late August.  Put in to bat the Welsh County made 394 with Ethan Rice taking 5-53. Northants replied with 262, Riefer (80) top scoring.  In Glamorgan’s second innings of 318 Freddie Heldreich (4- 84) and Max Hunt (4-101) claimed four wickets but Northamptonshire were still left a victory target of 451. Despite half centuries for George Hargrave (82) and Josh Cobb (61) Northamptonshire were bowled out for 302.

In early September Bretton Gate, Peterborough was the venue for the Championship match against Sussex. Choosing to bat first another poor batting display by Northamptonshire saw them all out for 111. Sussex replied with 424. Hargrave hit 64 and Zen Malik 101 as Northants avoided an innings defeat. Left just 48 to win Sussex claimed victory by eight wickets.

Nottinghamshire were Northamptonshire’s final Championship opponents at Notts Sports Club. Notts won the toss and compiled a total of 450-8 declared. Northants conceded a large first innings deficit being bowled out for 212 despite 99 from Buchake and 53 from Arav Shetty. The weather only allowed Notts to reach 64-2 in their second innings and the match ended drawn.

NUMBER 222 REMEMBERED- EDDIE DAVIS

Brackley born Eddie Davis’s older brother Percy had made his Northamptonshire debut back in 1935. Eddie joined him in the Northamptonshire ranks in 1947 making his County Championship bow against Hampshire.

His highest innings came against Leicestershire at the County Ground in 1949 when he hit 171 one of just three first-class centuries. Northants awarded him his county cap in 1953.He remained with Northamptonshire until the end of the 1957 season. In total Eddie Davis made 104 appearances for Northamptonshire hitting 4,126 runs at an average of 28.

Eddie then moved into Minor Counties cricket, making 40 appearances for Cambridgeshire between 1958 and 1963. 1967 saw him make a one-off return for his minor County making his only Limited overs appearance against Yorkshire in the Gillette Cup. He was professional, coach and Groundsman at Wisbech CC.

He died at Norwich in July 2011 at the age of 89.

OVERSEAS EXTRAS

The county has had overseas players from countries which have been playing tests for a much shorter time than, say, Australia. Of those players, Chaminda Vaas stands out. He played from 2010 to 2012 principally as an opening bowler but also batted up the order in T20, striking the ball to good effect quite often.

Looking at Wikipedia’s list of our notable players, it reminded me that Kevin Curran was a Zimbabwean international. He was a true all rounder, excellent with bat and ball, and exceptional whether fielding close in or in the deep.

Elton Chigumbura and Blessing Muzurabani are our other Zimbabweans, both capable players but neither stayed long enough to show their best form. Blessing’s telescopic catch at Sophia Gardens lives long in the memory. The ball seemed to be way above him but at 6’ 8” Blessing plucked it out of the air. One player who has become an international since he moved on is Niall O’Brien. Niall played in Ireland’s first ever test match against Pakistan in 2018. He was a fine wicket keeper/batsman, and his aggressive batting was usually entertaining. Perhaps there will be a series about our white ball overseas players. One of them played one championship match, one innings and made 111 in a 10 wicket win against Worcestershire in 2019. That was South Africa’s Dwaine Pretorius.

In conclusion, I must mention our Scottish lads, David Murphy and Tom Sole. The former was an excellent wicket keeper who was more than competent with the bat, the latter rarely seemed to play.

MICHAEL WELLS

FUTURE EVENTS

LUNCH WITH GUEST SPEAKER

Both lunches start at 1pm.

Thursday 29th February 2024: Andrew Radd

Thursday 28th March 2024: Fans Forum

QUIZ

With India and England engaged in a Test Series. This quiz looks at Northamptonshire’s cricketers in Indian Test Matches.

  1. Which Northamptonshire cricketer played in all three Tests of the 1933-34 series in India?
  2. Who fell just short of a century (94) against India at The Oval in 1959?
  3. Who bowled almost 44 overs in the second innings in the Test between the two countries at The Oval in 1979?
  4. Again, at The Oval who hit his first Test century in his third test in 1982?

Answers: 1. Nobby Clark, 2. Raman Subba Row, 3. Peter Willey (2-96), 4. Allan Lamb (107)

Northamptonshire County Cricket Supporters Club would like to thank PDS Ltd (www.printdatasolutions.co.uk) for their assistance in the printing of this newsletter.