The Northants Academy have made a good start to their 2014 season, by playing three games against three strong sides during the month of April.
In their first game of 2014, the Northants Academy faced Wollaston. Batting first, the academy side were bowled out for an excellent 183 on what was described as an early season pitch. Charlie Home and Matthew Plater (23) made a positive start for the academy side. The star of the Northants innings though, was 15 year old Saif Zaib, who scored an amazing 108 off 80 balls!
In the Wollaston innings, Northants bowled very well up front, before Mark Ralph staged a comeback for Wollaston. The academy finished strongly, taking several wickets at key times, in particular Jack Goode who closed out the game and finished with two wickets, as Wollaston ended their 50 overs on 169/9.
Northants’ second game saw them face a very strong Finedon side. Finedon batted first, and were led by former Steelback, Ben Howgego who scored 56. Jamie Delagy was the pick of the Northants bowlers with figures of 3/38, whilst new academy player Ben Claydon and Saif Zaib took two wickets each.
In reply, the academy were led well again by 15 year old Charlie Home, who scored 58. Ben Claydon had an excellent game for the side, scoring 31 runs in addition to the two wickets he took earlier. Academy Coach Phil Rowe was very pleased with the great effort the side put in, against a tough more experienced team.
The final game of the month was a tense affair, as Northants took on a strong Essex Academy side. Essex ended on 207 all out, with Hugo Douglas, Ethan Delagy and Tom Oxley recording figures of 2/24, 2/29, 2/12 respectively.
Charlie Macdonell was the star of the Northants innings scoring 76, and was finely supported by 14 year old Ben Claydon who scored 35. Northants at one point looked like they would cruise to the win, as they needed just 27 off the final six overs, with six wickets in hand. But thanks to a mix of good Essex bowling and nervy Northants batting, the team needed 22 off the last 2 overs, before finally finishing on 197/7.
This was a solid start to the season for the academy team, and Phil Rowe’s youngsters will be looking to build on these performances, as they face more challenges in the 2014 season.