Well they said that the LV= County Championship Division One was going to be tough, but I don't think any of us thought that it would have been quite as tough as this. This of course is mainly down to injuries and bad luck with overseas players.
On the injury front, all sports teams pick up injuries throughout a season and that is partly why you need to have a good squad of players. Since being a supporter of Northants Cricket, I have never known a season quite like it, especially for broken fingers! Just for good measure, I have come out in sympathy for the players by breaking my finger when practicing in the nets for my local club only three days before our season started, so it is now spreading to the supporters!
The club really have had a run of bad luck with injuries, which has been a cruel start to our campaign. I am now glad to see that some of the walking wounded are on their way back. When talking to other members, even they can't think of such a bad run of injuries in a season, especially so early on.
The overseas birth has been another headache with that dreaded word, injuries scuppering two of the original signings. I personally thought that Jackson Bird would have been one hell of a signing, but of course he has been prone to back injuries throughout his career. Then just when it looked as though it would be clearing up, he has broken down again, just as he was working his way back into the Australian squad as well, as he looked mightily impressive in the Big Bash League which I was watching on Sky.
Then of course we had no luck with either Rory Kleinveldt or Pakistan’s Sohail Tanvir, which as a supporter, I find very strange that the PCB gave him the clearance certificate to come over to play for us, but then a week later named him in a thirty man training squad! Very strange indeed. But at last we have got ourselves two solid Kiwi bowlers that hopefully will do the business, in Ian Butler and Neil Wagner, as with all New Zealanders, they will both give 110 % to the cause.
As I am writing this, Ian Butler has taken 4 wickets in the NatWest T20 Blast game at Yorkshire and has scored 48 with the bat in the first innings of his home LV= County Championship debut against Middlesex. We all know that we must improve our batting displays and where batsmen are getting good solid starts, the players must push onto make those big hundreds, which of course sets you those big targets for the opposition to chase, which at the moment we have failed to do.
On the bowling front, we haven't had much luck with the fact that in reality we have been opening without two opening bowlers. One being our original overseas signing in Jackson Bird and the other being David Willey who at the moment can only play as a batsman, it’s a bit worrying this back injury, like the player and supporters I was hoping to see him bowling by now. I suppose they have to get him right first before they can unleash him on to the Division One batsmen. So without both of your opening bowlers, it is obviously going to leave a big hole to fill, but at least the other lads are giving it their best shot. At this time I think the players and supporters have got to stick together and hopefully with the injuries clearing up and a couple of overseas bowlers, we can quickly turn things around.
On a brighter note what a great win and confidence booster it was when we beat the Yorkshire Vikings on their own patch last Friday night in the NatWest T20 blast. Congratulations to the new T20 captain Kyle Coetzer on his first win in the job. With Yorkshire and all of their big name players, it was a nice victory for the Champions! It was great to go up there and get revenge for a heavy defeat in the LV= County Championship, it was also nice to get one over on our old player Jack Brooks. Let’s hope this first win can give our season a kick start.
I would just like to say how wonderful the pitch and the whole ground looks this season, with the new stand that really finishes the ground off as a great non-test match venue. We are certainly going in the right direction with our club and I know that the players are trying their hardest to turn things around on the park too. Remember let’s all stick together, I have a feeling this could be a bit of a roller coaster ride!
Enjoy the summer and come on you Steelbacks!