Ripley in confident mood as Northants travel to title-chasing Kent

LAP OF HONOUR - the Northants players were at Sixfields on Sunday to show off the NatWetst T20 Blast trophy (Picture: Sharon Lucey)
LAP OF HONOUR - the Northants players were at Sixfields on Sunday to show off the NatWetst T20 Blast trophy (Picture: Sharon Lucey)

Northants head into their final two Specsavers County Championship games of the season in renewed spirits after a productive month which has revived their campaign.

Two wins over Glamorgan have pulled Northants away from the foot of the table and they head to Kent on Tuesday (start 10.30am) confident of challenging the promotion chasers.

Sandwiched between the victories over Glamorgan was a narrow defeat on a thrilling final day at Worcester and together with victory in the NatWest T20 Blast, it’s been a very productive month for the County.

“It was great to finally win at home,” head coach David Ripley said after the 318-run win over Glamorgan at Wantage Road.

“We sowed some good seeds at Worcester and the game before that we won at Swansea, so we’ve found a bit of form at the wrong end of the season.

“It would have been better to have been out of the blocks earlier in the year but it’s nice to be playing well and we have had some great individual performances.

“As a team and a collective, we’ve been up for it these past few weeks, and there’s a lot of desire and spirit and we want to finish the season strongly.

“You can try and rev people up but it’s about personal responsibility and individuals putting in big performances and we’ve had that these last few weeks.”

A title challenge slipped away from Northants some time ago but they could yet have a big say in who wins the only promotion place in division two this season as they travel to Beckenham for the first time.

Kent begin their penultimate match of the season second in the table and 24 points behind leaders Essex – whom they host at Canterbury in the final week of the season.

Despite their excellent form in the second half of the season, Ripley believes his Northants side have the game to match their high-flying opponents.

“I’m really looking forward to going to Kent,” said the Northants coach.

“They’re in the promotion hunt and have proved to be one of the better teams in the league so it’ll be a good test for us to see how far we’ve improved in the last month or so.

“We’ve been resting players and looking after guys with the white ball cricket around, so having that out of the way has helped our Championship cricket.

“And being able to see the end of the season too - it’s that time of year where you know what need left in the tank to get through the days left.”

Northants also go into the game on the back of a weekend of celebrations marking their title triumph in the NatWest T20 Blast.

The team enjoyed a lap of honour at half-time of the match between Saints and Bath at Franklins’s Gardens on Saturday, and then at Sixfields prior to the Cobblers’ 3-2 win over Milton Keynes Dons on Sunday.