Head coach Sadler satisfied as Northants claim draw in four-day thriller

Head coach John Sadler admitted he went through a whole range of emotions as Northamptonshire claimed a thrilling draw in their opening LV= Insurance County Championship clash of the season.

By Jeremy Casey
Monday, 11th April 2022, 10:15 am
Northamptonshire head coach John Sadler
Northamptonshire head coach John Sadler

The four-day Division One encounter went down to the very final ball at Wantage Road on Sunday, with Northants 28 runs short of a dramatic victory, and Gloucestershire two wickets shy.

It was a fantastic match that ebbed and flowed throughout, and even on the final day it looked as though the County were in control and on their way to victory, only for the visitors to hit back and nearly clinch it themselves.

As it transpired, Northants closed out the day on 272 for eight in pursuit of 299 to win, but even in the final over, Gloucestershire all-rounder Ryan Higgins put down a caught and bowled chance off Tom Taylor that would have made things even more nail-biting with four balls remaining!

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It was certainly a nervy afternoon for Sadler, who was taking charge of his first competitive match as Northants head coach after succeeding David Ripley in October.

"It was entertaining, and nerve-wracking," admitted the 40-year-old.

"It had a bit of everything didn't it? What a brilliant advert for the county game to go to the last over on day four."

Superb knocks of 73 from first innings centurion Rob Keogh and 65 from Saif Zaib had Northants dreaming of victory, after they had bowled out Gloucestershire for 363 in the morning session - Ben Sanderson claiming a five-wicket haul.

Josh Cobb then added 36 from just 52 balls as the County went for it, but a quick clatter of wickets - including Lewis McManus and Gareth Berg falling in successive balls - meant the priorities changed.

"We had a discussion at tea," said Sadler. "We had a real positive talk with a real team buy in and went out to try and win the game with the bat.

"Half an hour before the end I thought we had the game just about won, but this game can change very quickly.

"We got in front of the game, but then lost a wicket and once we lost those two in two balls it was time to shut up shop.

"We can sleep easy. We planned well and played some brilliant cricket in a fabulous game."

Sanderson, who claimed five for 66 in the second innings, ended the match with figures of nine for 132, while Keogh hit 187 runs in the match.

The County now have a free week before they host Yorkshire at the County Ground on Thursday, April 21.

Elsewhere in division one, Hampshire hammered Somerset by an innings and 113 runs, while the matches between Essex and Kent and Warwickshire and Surrey ended in high-scoring draws.

Former Northants skipper Adam Rossington made his debut for Essex, scoring 41 from 52 balls in their massive first innings total of 514 all out.

Northants v Gloucestershire scoreboard: Gloucestershire 223 all out (Bracey 117, Sanderson 4-66, Berg 2-39, Buck 2-63) and 363 all out (Higgins 139, Lace 73, Dent 54, Khan 53, Sanderson 5-66, Berg 3-53), drew with Northants 288 all out (Keogh 113, Berg 66, Higgins 4-68) and 272-8 (Keogh 74, Zaib 65, Higgins 3-47, Khan 3-107). Northants 13pts; Gloucestershire 12 pts