FEATURE: All-rounder Parnell looking forward to a busy and successful summer with Northants
Overseas signing Wayne Parnell says he is fit and ready to start producing the goods for Northants.
The all-rounder is in line to make his debut for the club in Thursday’s LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Glamorgan at Wantage Road (11am start).
The South African arrived in the UK at the end of March, but has had to undergo a spell of coronavirus quarantine and then something of a mini pre-season to get himself ready for the rigours of a county campaign.
But after plenty of work in the nets and a run-out for the second team last week, the former Worcestershire man is ready to don the Tudor Rose for the first time, and he admits he can’t wait.
“I am ready, and hopefully I will get the nod,” said Parnell, taking a break from Northants’ training session on Wednesday morning.
“I have trained nicely over the past week or two and I am feeling really, really good. Now it is just about trying to get out there and putting in the performances.”
A seasoned campaigner with six Test matches and more than 100 white ball international appearances under his belt, like virtually everybody else in cricket Parnell has endured a difficult past 18 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
If he does get the nod to take on Glamorgan, it will be his first red ball action since playing for Worcestershire in September 2019, but Parnell says he has been able to get in some proper preparation.
“My last red ball game was in 2019, and I think it was the last game of the season,” he recalled.
“So it has been a while, but I was lucky enough back home to be training with the Dukes ball so I am feeling comfortable with it in my hands.
“It is coming out nicely, so now I just want to put the things that I have been doing during practice into a match situation.”
Parnell was part of the 13-man squad that travelled to Lancashire last weekend, a match that ended in a 206-run defeat for Northants, although they were only 13 overs away from securing a draw.
He also saw some of the opening stalemate with Kent, and he has been impressed with what he has seen so far.
“With the Lancashire game, even though we lost, it was probably one hour where good bowling from them was the difference in the game,” he said, referring to Northants being reduced to 85 for eight in their first innings.
“Bar that I think we went toe to toe with them, and even watching a couple of days of the Kent game, it was a really, really flat wicket, but the boys fought hard and got a decent result at the end of four days.”
Having been signed to play in all three formats in 2021, Parnell is gearing himself up for a long summer in Northants colours, and he knows he has a lot of work ahead of him between now and the end of September.
But he is also confident it will be a successful campaign.
“It is jam-packed, and the county season is really long, and really tough,” said the 31-year-old.
“Mentally, trying to stay sharp, and obviously physically as well, I think that is going to be the challenge.
“But there is a great bunch of guys here, and I honestly think this is a special group, watching them over the past couple of seasons and how they have gone on an upward curve.
“That is really, really promising, and hopefully we can get closer to winning some silverware again.”
And what of personal targets and ambitions?
“I am not really a big guy for stats and stuff like that, I think it is just about contributing to the team,” said Parnell, who won the T20 Blast with Worcestershire in 2018, and helped them to the final the following year.
“Wherever possible I try and do well myself firstly and try and help people around me, that is the key for me.
“If I do well personally, that’s great, if I don’t but I can add value in other avenues then I will be happy with that.”
So what has Parnell's welcome been like in his new home of Northampton? It has certainly helped to have some familiar faces, and familiar accents, in the dressing room.
Other South Africans at the club include Richard Levi, Ricardo Vasconcelos and Brandon Glover, and he said: "It has been nice, bar the quarantine period, and everyone has welcomed me, which is a positive.
"I know a couple of guys at the club, and that was a big pull for me, and I am really looking forward to the season ahead."
And that South African connection?
"When you come into a foreign country, a foreign environment and a foreign team, having people around you that you know helps you settle nicely," he added.
It has been a relief to everybody that the 2021 cricket season has started on schedule, and that to date there have been no issues with Covid-19 cases to derail things.
Parnell admits the pandemic has been 'a frustrating time', but he is pleased and relieved that things, at last, seem to be heading towards something resembling normality.
"You just had to go with it and make the best out of it," he said, when asked how coronavirus had affected him over the past year or so.
"It was a really frustrating time, because there was a lot of uncertainty and every country was dealing with things differently.
"But as it turned out it is just nice to see sport being played again, and in particular cricket.
"Hopefully in the next month or two we will also start seeing fans get in again which will help to start get it back to where it was."