Monday 17 September 2007 

Northamptonshire Building For The Future

To be truly competitive at this level the Club recognises the necessity to recruit a quality seam bowler, and a top order batsman who our younger players will learn from to help them become the backbone of the club for many years to come.

Alex Wakely, Riki Wessels and Steven Crook as previously reported have signed for two seasons, Mark Nelson for one and two year deals have been offered to ex academy player Graeme White and wicket keeper Niall O’Brien, who is also attracting attention from Warwickshire.

The early loss this season of overseas strike bowler Johan van der Wath and the return to Australia of opening batsman Chris Rogers has stretched the resources of the Northants squad especially towards the end of this season. Head Coach David Capel has also been hit by the calf injury to the short term loan replacement for Rogers, Ian Sutcliffe, who in his debut game for the county was cruelly stopped from completing the loan period. If that wasn’t enough the sidelining of Steven Crook at the same time as van der Wath’s loss has put even more pressure on the backs of messrs Wigley, Logan and Lucas who have all responded with some encouraging performances in the Championship.

One half of next years opening bowling attack has already been secured with Johan van der Wath and David Capel is working hard to strengthen the squad by securing the signature of a top quality partner for Johan. Lance Klusener has already agreed to return for a third season and continues to impress with both bat and ball and with a fit again Steven Crook the overall seam attack begins to looks more threatening.

Fast bowlers often mature in their late twenties and It is with great reluctance that any county will release seam bowlers without giving them every opportunity to learn their trade. With this thought in mind and the recognition that wicket taking potential is a key factor in achieving success particularly in Championship cricket, the club has decided to invest in our back up seam department by offering David Wigley, Richard Logan and David Lucas one year extensions to their current contracts which were due to expire at the end of this season.

Northants have a strong tradition of quality spin bowling within its ranks. Monty Panesar has again been rewarded with a central contract leaving this department in the very capable hands of Jason Brown who will hopefully have the support of developing spinners Graeme White and Alex Wakely not forgetting Andrew Crook who has impressed at second X1 level and is one of the leading wicket takers for the 2nd Xl this season. Twenty six year old Andrew has also been offered a one year extension on the back of these promising performances and his runs scored for the first team recently against Notts and Leicester.

Missing out on contracts for next season are Richard Dawson who has struggled with form and injury for most of the season, Durham University student Patrick Foster and as previously announced Paul Coverdale. Leeds University will have young seamer Richard Browning amongst its ranks as has been offered the chance to combine his studies with cricket by virtue of a summer contract. Graduating from the Northants Academy, Ben Howgego has also been offered a summer contract to tie in with his studies at Exeter University.

Players already in the middle of longer term contracts include, David Sales, Stephen Peters, Jason Brown, Rob White and Monty Panesar.

The one player not mentioned so far is Usman Afzaal who has been missing from recent team sheets. Usman and the club have had lengthy talks over the way forward and Usman’s request to be released from his contract has been accepted by the club. Northants and Usman have parted company amicably and we wish him all the best for the future and thank him for his services over the past four seasons.

© Northamptonshire CCC