2008 County Preview - Northamptonshire
2007 was not the best of years for Northamptonshire. With a good squad that possessed plenty of ability, they never fired and did not manage to come close to challenging for a title. In the County Championship Division Two, they finished fifth, right in the middle of the table. The Steelbacks’ one day form was even worse as they finished seventh in the Pro40 Division Two, went out in the group stages of the Twenty20 and finished second from bottom in the Friends Provident Trophy with just one victory.
Northamptonshire have looked to bolster their squad for the 2008 season with three Kolpak signings. Nicky Boje, who has been named as captain, will add depth to the spin department with Monty Panesar likely to be reeling through some overs for England during the summer. Boje will also add depth to the batting line up, and with his international experience will definitely be vital for Northants in all formats of the game. Johannes van der Wath is again an all-rounder who is born and bred in South Africa. He possesses a great threat with the ball as a seamer and is destructive in the latter overs when batting.
Andrew Hall, the final signing that Northamptonshire have made, will be lethal in both departments and should prove to be a fantastic signing. He is a powerful hitter and can bat anywhere in the order as well as having the ability to bowl superbly at the death. These signing show that Northants may have a lack of youth to fall back on so they have gone all out for some quality all rounders that will be vital to helping the club
David Sales, who stepped down as captain so that he can focus on his batting will be again be vital for the Steelbacks. He had a phenomenal 2007 year with over a thousand runs in the County Championship and averaged over 50 in the Pro40 Division Two.
It will be interesting to see if young talent Alex Wakely, who in the recent under 19 World Cup captained the side. He showed plenty of promise with both the bat and ball towards the end of last year, so he will be looking to become one of Northamptonshire’s home grown talent successes.
One worrying thing is that Northants do have a lack of top order quality batsman. This means that the pressure will be on these experienced all-rounders to score highly with the bat and contribute with the ball regularly. A few of the batsmen will have to step up and score just as heavily as David Sales does if Northants want any chance of pushing other counties for titles in 2008.
In: Andrew Hall, Johan Van Der Wath
Out: Chris Rogers, Usman Afzaal,
Richard Dawson, Paul Coverdale, Patrick Foster
County Championship Division Two: 6th
Pro40 Division Two: 4th
Friends Provident Trophy: Group Stage
Twenty20 Cup: Finals Day
Star Man: David Sales
Top Tip: Andrew Hall
By Pierce Morley-Barnes