Fans' County Ground return has been a huge boost for Steelbacks players
Steelbacks batsman Rob Keogh says it is great to have supporters back inside the County Ground - and that he can't wait for the stands to be full once again.
A crowd of around 1,100 will once again be at Wantage Road on Tuesday night for the Steelbacks Vitality T20 Blast North Group clash with Birmingham Bears (start 6.30pm).
That was also the case for the matches against Worcestershire Rapids and Notts Outlaws, with these fixtures are the first stage of sport returning to normal after 18 months of disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
And although progress has been delayed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson until the middle of July, the signs are that sporting events will soon be attended once more by capacity crowds.
And that is something Keogh says he and his Steelbacks team-mates can't wait to experience again.
"It has been a strange 18 months or so, playing with no fans," said Keogh.
"It is always nice to hear a little ripple of applause when you make a stop, or the wicket keeper takes one down the legside, the crowds seem to love that!
"It is just nice to have that slight bit of atmosphere.
"It is obviously not quite the same as when we have full crowds in here, but it is nice to see some familiar faces and have some atmosphere.
"They are brilliant here at Northampton and they get right behind us."
Asked about his experiences of playing behind closed doors, Keogh added: "It can feel like practice games with no buzz around, but we are professionals and it is our job to get ourselves up for those games.
"It is nice to have some form of crowd back now, and hopefully not too far down the line there will be full crowds in again."