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WAKELY: "WE'LL ALWAYS CARE ABOUT THE CHAMPIONSHIP"

Northamptonshire resume their Specsavers County Championship campaign on Saturday against Leicestershire at Wantage Road and despite their one-day success this season, still have a point to prove.

Winless in their first 10 matches, Northants finally got off the mark in the Championship with a thumping win at Glamorgan. They have five games remaining and the opportunity to climb the table is very important to the club.

“I personally have taken a bit of stick about our performances in the Championship,” captain Alex Wakely said. “People say we don’t care – we definitely do, we’re just limited for options. We’ve got such a small squad that we have to rest players, if someone has got a niggle we have to rest them.”

Five potential first-choice players were unavailable for the trip to Swansea but it didn’t stop Northants romping to a 251-run win, their highest in Glamorgan since the war.

“The win at Swansea has given us some confidence,” Wakely said. “We’re not far away – if you look at the top of the table, those teams have only won three games. So if you can win two games at this time of year you’re right back up there.

“We’re genuinely in a position to compete across all three competitions coming towards the end of the season – I’ve never had that at Northants and I doubt the rest of the players have so it would be great for the club.”

Head coach David Ripley also presses the virtues of success in the County Championship. “Regardless of what happens with the white ball stuff, who wants to be down the bottom of the County Championship?” Ripley said. “We have small resources but Northamptonshire followers should know that we definitely do not want to be down the lower part of the table.

“We definitely take the Championship seriously – we do prioritise but the desire to win four day games is definitely there. Sure, Twenty20 wasn’t around when I played but for me there’s no better feeling than winning a Championship game. It’s a proper test over four days and we want that winning feeling in the Championship more often.”

Northants go into their 12th match 45 points behind leaders Kent, but with fixtures to come against all the teams currently vying for promotion.

“Just one team going up makes it difficult for us to think realistically that we could make a charge and win the league but we’ve got five games to go and If we can get on a roll who knows. We’ve got to play all the teams who are up there and they should be good matches.”

 

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