Matt Spriegel: ‘I’m looking forward to the challenge.’

A few eyebrows were raised when it was announced that 25-year-old Matthew Spriegel was to join Northants after spending his entire career so far with Surrey, but the all-rounder is relishing the prospect of an exciting new challenge with the Steelbacks. chatted exclusively to the County’s new signing on his first impressions of the club, his winter plans and his views on the club’s new recruits.

When asked what his first thoughts were on the team and the surroundings here in Northampton, Matt said, “I’ve been here for a couple of days now and I’ve been up a number of times since the season ended. I’m impressed with the way the lads have gone about things here, and it was also good to meet the guys which has helped settle me in. I’m getting to know everyone around the ground and I’m looking forward to my time here at Northants.”

The move to Northants represents a big change for a cricketer who has spent his entire career at the Kia Oval, but the 25-year-old is relishing the prospect of becoming a senior player amongst the Steelbacks here at the County Ground, a fact he agrees with when saying, “It’s the opportunity to play a lot more cricket, all forms of cricket. To be a senior player in the side as opposed to just playing one-dayers means I’m looking forward to playing a big part in the team and in the changing rooms. It was a great experience playing at Surrey, in big games, in big situations, and I hope to bring all that experience into my cricket here at the County Ground, in all formats of the game.”

The start of November sees cricketers up and down the country get back into winter training schedules, and that is something that does not faze the left-handed batsman, as he discussed the fact that training so far hasn’t differed that much from his efforts in previous seasons with Surrey.

“With 12 month contracts now the ‘norm’ in cricket, everyone is used to coming back in to train in early November so there’s no real differences in that respect. Of course, the training is set up slightly differently. I’m in here a couple of times a weeks and then follow my programme myself on the other days, and that’s the same pretty much around all the counties now. The game is a lot more professional and the fitness side of things is massive.”

“You can’t take your eyes off any facet of the game now,” added the spinner, when asked about what his training focus will be this winter. “But with the way cricket had changed with one-day cricket, Twenty20 cricket and Championship cricket, obviously I’ve played a lot more one-day cricket so I’m going to really try and work on and hone my four-day cricket skills so I’m ready for April. I need to be ready for pre-season so I can really make a good impression. I’ll also need to keep developing and improving my one-day skills so I can really help and contribute to the Steelbacks’ ambitions in the shorter forms.”

Matt has recently returned from a 10-day tour to Tanzania with the MCC, that saw him help coach cricketing juniors from the country, and it was an experience he clearly enjoyed.

“It was a fantastic trip. I’d never been to Tanzania before and it would have been unlikely that I would have gone, had it not been for this tour. It was great experience to see the kids’ faces and the enjoyment and enthusiasm they have for their cricket. The coaching sessions were great fun and there are some really talented kids out there. The whole reason the MCC goes out to places like Tanzania is to really try and develop cricket. Hopefully the trip there will be of benefit to some of those kids.

And that’s not the only trip this winter for the all-rounder, who revealed further plans to travel in the near future.

“I’m looking at going away to Australia after Christmas to play some club cricket out in Adelaide – again a part of the world I’ve not yet been too – and being out there for eight weeks. The fact it has to be 35, 40 degrees is something I’ll have to take on the chin! (laughs) It’s a lot better then being stuck inside watching the rain and even snow here in England. I do like to try and get away for a bit each winter and play competitive cricket.”

“It’s invaluable really,” continued Matt about the importance of these trips abroad to play competitive cricket. “There have been times when I’ve been away for a few months before and it’s not gone too well, and you end up scratching your head and thinking I’ve put the effort in but it’s got me nowhere. But I think just the experience of playing in different environments, on different wickets, against different sides, and against different players is invaluable. Also the chance to be outside and netting out on grass wickets is a lot different to being stuck indoors facing the bowling machine. It’s something that if you have the opportunity, you would be silly to turn down.”

Finally, a new signing himself, Matt spoke about the club’s recruitment since the end of the 2012 season, and seems excited at the potential within the squad, as he said, “I think it’s been really encouraging. To get Steven Crook back was a big bonus because he’s obviously a very skilled one-day bowler and finished the season really well for Middlesex in the Championship. It’s a big thing to get hold of him and hopefully myself too. Obviously, losing Niall O’Brien and Jack Brooks is a blow as you never want to see quality players go. But there are some talented youngsters that have put pen to paper, that are great additions to the side, and who will be pushing for first team places too, so we are in a really great position. It’s a really exciting time to be involved with the club and I’m looking forward to it.”

Matt Spriegel: ‘I’m looking forward to the challenge.’