VIEW FROM THE BLUES: Poor early form the reason for One Day Cup failure

HE'S OFF - Northampton lad David Willey has signed for Yorkshire
HE'S OFF - Northampton lad David Willey has signed for Yorkshire

Another good week for Northants, but with ultimately no reward after crashing out of the Royal London One Day Cup after one win and a washout.

There was also the joy of more humiliation stacked on the feeble Australian team in the tour match, and the sad loss of David Willey in his prime.

We can’t blame him for moving on to Yorkshire, and can only wish him the best with England and be proud that he is a Northampton boy when we watch him.

But it was Monday that mattered most as a decent crowd enjoyed pleasant sunshine for the final home London Cup match as an already qualified Gloucestershire Gladiators decided to hit first on what they thought was a friendly looking pitch, re-used from the previous day’s Australian match.

It was soon seaming around though, and it wasn’t giving up that four-an-over that embarrassed Australia.

To dismiss Gladiators for 215 was great bowling by the lads as skipper Alex Wakely kept the fielders in for as long as possible to exploit the new regulations, something I don’t feel he did in the early games.

Howell’s 80 dragged the score to respectability from a perilous 140 for seven after a battling 57 from Roderick, but having the guys in meant they had to smash though the field on a slowish one and so never really flowing.

Steven Crook continued his fun week with four for 37 after great PR from the tourist match, and I was pleased for Olly Stone too, his three for 34 including a big opening spell alongside Rory Klienveldt.

The Steelbacks decided on a positive approach to nail the game in the first 20 overs as Willey quickly went aerial with 41, but he couldn’t rein himself in to bat out the innings - Josh Cobb more that type of guy with 58. Willey’s biggest fault is also his biggest scoring shot.

But 111 for two after 21 overs was the platform required to coast home as Wakely and Kyle Coetzer secured the match with a run-a-ball 50 partnership.

So victory at Headingley on Tuesday would ensure progression to the last eight - but rain fell all day and that was that.

Yorkshire and defending champions Durham went through at Northants’ expense, but there was time enough for Willey to sign for Yorskhire while in ‘God’s Country’.

The players and fans can grumble that rain denied Northants, but it was losing three of the first four that really cost the team, the annihilation of the run rate at The Oval and failing to beat a mediocre Derbyshire side the real reasons they didn’t progress.

It was the same story in 2013 when we made the Twenty20 final and fell just short in the 50.

As poor as we were early on, spare a thought for Leicestershire, bowled out in all seven group games and in four of those matches for less than 200 runs.

Sadly, I fear we will be as cash-starved in results and finances as them in two years’ time if things continue to go the way they are.

The tour match was a bit dull and after a first day washout we had two solid days.

A decent crowd enjoyed some autograph hunting and a few beers in pleasant sunshine for the remainder in Northampton.

With the final day of the home Twenty20 campaign also washed out, let’s hope the new chief exec insured both games! Normally big home matches are covered.

But this may be the last time the Aussies visit the County Ground for a while, as the club had to argue hard to get them to come this year as the Australian Cricket Board only really want to play first division clubs and attacks now.

I’m not sure how much the Aussies make from the gate from the smaller counties, but the word is that they have decided they will only play first division clubs at the bigger grounds on their 2019 tour. It’s another big financial blow for the minnows, if we are still here.

New Aussie captain Steve Smith invited a composite Northants team to bat, and they duly did, all day, thrashing nearly 400, with the only in-form Australian on the pitch playing for Northants!

Crook crashed that career best 142 not out from just 96 balls.

He didn’t grind it out but got to the landmark ton off 77 balls, pinging the ball all around the park. Crooky is the dynamic midfielder we see in successful football teams.

Smith clearly wanted to look at bowlers for the fifth Test at The Oval, and Pat Cummins showing genuine pace with three for 64 while Mitch Marsh took four for 56. Northants were linked with Marsh last year for the Twenty20, and he has said he would like to play county cricket in the county championship next year.

Ben Duckett impressed yet again with a fluent 50 in an opening partnership of 68 with David Murphy, who kept really well in the Aussie innings.

Murphy has lost the gloves and drifted down the order in recent times, and was batting 11 just two years ago.

Sadly he struggled here, scoring 20 in 2 hours and 15 minutes!

Kyle Coetzer scored his highest first-class score for two years with an always elegant 86, but I feel he is still destined to leave the club, along with Murphy.

Like the now retired Stephen Peters, all three could do a job for other counties and I’m surprised no one has picked them up.

Peters guarantees 800 red-ball runs at 40 in league two, and Coetzer is a decent all round cricketer.

Australia’s batting was poor, Smith out for nought and Shane Watson LBW for not many, a familiar theme this summer.

In fact, they crumbled to 180 for eight against a third-string attack headed by Maurice Chambers.

Tall pace bowler Nic Gleeson, filling in for the County along with batsman Munsey, had never played first-class cricket.

Indeed, Gleeson had never even watched himself on a big screen until last weekend, with 100 or so punters and a couple of cows his biggest audience when playing for Northumbria.

But he bowled rather well, as did all the lads.

With the Sunday crowd beginning to drift off in late afternoon, Northants put on the part-time spinners and Australia got past the 296 follow to avoid any further embarrassment, closing on 312 for nine.

In truth, it was yet another pointless tour match, and maybe it’s because the smaller counties embarrass Australia that is the real reason they no longer want to come.