All about the basics for bowling coach Liddle as Northants prepare for return to top flight cricket
New bowling coach Chris Liddle will be urging the Northants attack to continue concentrating on the basics as they prepare for their return to the top flight of English cricket this summer.
The County won promotion to division one of the Specsavers County Championship back in September, and one of the key reasons for that success was the consistency and potency of their seam attack.
Ben Sanderson was the leading light, playing in every match and claiming 60 wickets at just 19.65 apiece, and not far behind him was Brett Hutton, who claimed 35 wickets from 10 matches at exactly 20.
The likes of Nathan Buck and Luke Procter also played their part, while the late-season capture of Gareth Berg added another string to the pace bowling attack.
It is certainly a department where the County are well stocked, especially when you add new signings Brandon Glover and Jack White to the group, along with Blessing Muzarabani.
Liddle started work with the bowling group at the beginning of January, but he admits he won’t be asking them to try anything different as they make the step up a level.
Instead, he believes the secret to success is to do exactly the opposite - and to do it time after time.
“Just because it is division one, it doesn’t mean we necessarily have to change what we need to do,” said Liddle, who was part of the Gloucestershire squad that was promoted along with Northants and Lancashire last season.
“As a bowling unit, it is about how challenging can we be with our plans of hitting the top of the stumps.
“Whatever meeting you have as a cricketer, it always comes back to hitting the top of the off-stump, but I suppose it is how much we can repeat that.
“Games might last a bit longer in division one because the wickets might be that bit better because we are playing at Test match grounds, so it is about repeating, and being good at repeating the good things over and over again.
“There are going to be times when you are having to bowl a third spell, a fourth spell, and we have make sure we are conditioned enough to still be on our game when that sort of thing happens.
“We have to make sure we are ruthless enough in what we are trying to do, and we are not having that half an hour or an hour where we just let the game slip away.
“That is why is is tough cricket in division one, but we have to be up for it, and I am sure we will be.”
One thing that may play into Northants’ hands is the fact that six of the season’s 14 Championship matches are played before the end of May.
There are then a couple in June and one in July, before the remainder of the fixtures are played out in late August and September.
There may well be a bit of early summer juice in the wickets for the Northants pace attack to make the most of, and Liddle certainly hopes that will be the case.
Asked about whether or not the early start could help Northants, Liddle said: “It will have its benefits, especially with the bowling side of things.
“But the plans will still be the same, it will be about running in and hitting the wicket hard, and hopefully we have the skill in the bowlers to get plenty of lateral movement and challenge the batsmen’s defence.
“Hopefully we can do that and get off to a good start.”
Liddle was a left-arm pace bowler by trade, and his expertise lies with seam bowling, but he is also looking forward to helping the Northants spinners shine as well
In the Championship, most of the twirling work is going to be undertaken by the likes of Rob Keogh and Saif Zaib, with back up perhaps coming from Josh Cobb and Tom Sole, and Liddle is looking forward to working with them.
“I will be working with the spinners, and making sure they are up to speed on what they need to do,” said Liddle.
“I will be challenging the spinners as much as I will be challenging the quick bowlers, seeing how consistent they can be, and then when it comes to white ball, what sort of skills they have.
“Can they change their pace but hold the length the same? And other stuff like that.
“I will be working closely with the spinners and making sure they are happy with how things are going, and that they are progressing nicely over the winter and then into the summer as well.”