Well it's that time of the year again, it’s the start of the English cricket season and I hope you have all wintered well.
After last season's heroics, which will probably go down as one of the best seasons in the history of Northants Cricket, it’s onwards and upwards to the 2014 season - defending the NatWest T20 blast trophy and of course after a 10 year absence, back in Division One of the LV= County Championship.
As it’s been said before, what a difference a year makes. It will be a tough order to replicate last year's success, but even though we have already had a tough start with injuries and the now non-appearance of Australia's Jackson Bird - personally I am quietly confident that we will have a good season.
One of the good things with our squad is that even though we have a small squad, I think it is packed with far more quality than the Derbyshire team that went straight back down last season. You don’t have to look any further than our pace bowlers; Willey, Azhar Ullah, Crook, Hall, Stone and new signing Maurice Chambers from Essex, where I know that when he left at the end of the season, he also had the chance to join Warwickshire, so great credit to the County for snapping him up. So there you can see six quality pace bowlers that could be selected at any time and do a good job for the County when needed.
Obviously David Willey’s back injury is a bit of a concern at the moment, but with a bit more rest it won't be too long before we see him back in action for the County. The good thing about last season is at times we batted all the way down, when the lower order batsmen helped save our innings. There are not many teams that had there wicket keeper batting at number 10 on occasions last season.
We also have a nice blend of youth and experience in the squad. The experience coming from skipper Stephen Peters, Andrew Hall, David Sales and James Middlebrook; the youth coming from Rob Keogh, Ben Duckett and Rob Newton. Which leads me nicely into my tip for the season, one to watch is Rob Newton. A swash buckling batsman, he can play every shot in the book and when in full flow he score's very quickly, I know it’s a big compliment but with his short stature he reminds me at times of a young Allan Lamb. If he can stay fit, then I think it is going to be a big season for him.
Let's hope that we can take the confidence and no fear cricket from last season into this one. Of course, I like all Northants supporters were saddened to hear about the sickening injury to our one-day skipper Alex Wakely in Barbados. Alex I wish you a speedy recovery, but I know that you will come back stronger, all the very best.
Well it just leaves me to wish our coach David Ripley, Captain Stephen Peters and all the Northants players and supporters all the very best for the 2014 cricket season, roll on Sunday and the Champions Durham, come on the County!