Northamptonshire turn their attention back to the Specsavers County Championship this week after slipping out of contention for the knockout stage of the Royal London One-Day Cup with a game to spare.
Defeat at Worcestershire on Sunday ended Northants’ hope of reaching the top three in the North Group so focus now shifts back to the red-ball game ahead of Leicestershire’s visit to Wantage Road on Saturday.
David Ripley’s side endured a poor start to their Championship campaign, earning only 15 points from four matches, and now have three fixtures before the Vitality T20 Blast begins to reignite their promotion challenge.
“Our priority now will shift to Saturday’s game in terms of practice and resting personnel – some of the bowlers look a little weary,” said Ripley.
“We need to dust ourselves off, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves, we’ve got three big Championship matches because after these, half our season will have gone and if we don’t get something on the board we’ll have gone nowhere.
“The dressing room isn’t a good spot at the moment, people are hurting as you would expect. That togetherness we’ve always found to be a strength of ours but you lose a few games and one or two chinks appear which is inevitable, so there will be nothing better than winning a couple of games and enjoying our cricket a bit more.”
Before Saturday, Northants head to Headingley on Thursday for a day-night match to conclude the Royal London Cup – when they may face Joe Root, who has been made available by the England management to join the likes of Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and former Northants star David Willey.
“We’ll reflect on what’s the best for us on Thursday,” said Ripley. “We obviously want to be competitive in that game but the structure of the season is tough and we’ve got to be thinking about Saturday’s game as well.
“There’s a balance to be had and it’s a long season. It will probably be a key game to somebody so we don’t want to take the mickey but it’s fair enough when we are stretched that we protect ourselves a little, the last thing we need is another injury at Headingley.”
As in 2017, injuries have bitten at a poor time, with the One-Day Cup matches condensed into a three-week block.
“We’ve added depth to our squad which is welcome and I think our squad looks good but injuries have stretched us a bit once again in the One Day Cup,” said Ripley.
“Richard Gleeson has missed the whole competition, Richard Levi has missed half of it, Rory Kleinveldt missed a couple of games too. Luke Procter and Steve Crook have also been out and all these guys would probably be among our best 12 players so it has hurt us – but we still had a squad to compete harder and that’s disappointing.”