Northants batsman Ricardo Vasconcelos pining for the great outdoors
Ricardo Vasconcelos admits it has been a ‘weird’ winter for him and the rest of the Northants squad as they continue to cope with what Covid-19 throws at them.
But he is delighted that things at long last seem to be returning to some kind of normality.
The serious business of the LV= County Championship is just around the corner, and he is set to get the opportunity to at long last meet up with the rest of his team-mates at the end of this week.
The squad are hoping to take part in their first outdoor nets at the County Ground this week, and if they do it will be the first time the squad has been able to get together as a whole.
Pre-season up to now for the bulk of the squad has been undertaken in small designated groups in the indoor nets at the Lynn Wilson Centre, although for Vasconcelos he was at least able to spend a large chunk of the winter back in his native South Africa.
“Until last week, there were still guys that I hadn’t seen and it is kind of weird that we are all training towards the same goal but not being able to see each other,” said Vasconcelos.
“From later this week we are hoping to get outside, so hopefully things will start going back to normal.
“In team sports like ours, we are a small squad, we all get on really well and it is nice when everybody is around and together.”
And the 23-year-old admits he is desperate to get back out playing on the grass, even if it is going to be a bit on the green side thanks to the recent wet weather that has hit Northampton!
“The indoor school is a great facility, but I was out in South Africa for most of the winter where I was netting outside on turf,” said Vasconcelos.
“Coming back and netting indoors has almost been a step back in terms of my preparation, and I am just looking forward to getting outside.
“It is more realistic when you net outside, because when you are indoors you find yourself playing shots that you would never play at this time of year.
“So getting outside just helps you to get into the proper rhythm of things.”
The County play their first pre-season friendly next Thursday when they travel to the Ageas Bowl to take on Hampshire over two days.
They then play an intra-squad game at the County Ground on March 28 and 29, before hosting Leicestershire in their final warm-up clash on April 4.
Then it is the season opener at home against Kent on April 8, and Vasconcelos is confident he and his team-mates will be ready to hit the ground running when the men from Canterbury come to town.
And the reality is that the majority of clubs and players up and down the country are in exactly the same boat.
“It is all down to individuals, and making the best of a bad situation really,” said Vasconcelos, when asked if Northants’ preparations will be sufficient.
“Everybody has been in the same boat, and it is going to just be about who has made the best of it.
“I think I will be alright, I think I am in a good space at the moment and I am just raring to go for the season.”
Northants start the summer with a block of eight Championship matches, playing throughout April and May.
And Vasconcelos is happy with that, as it will give him and the other batsmen a good chance to hit form.
“What’s nice is that the games come pretty much every week, so if you do get into a good run of form you just feel like you can’t get out,” he said.
“I found myself in that sort of form in 2019, so it would be nice to get back into that rhythm of scoring runs again which hopefully I can do.
“With the games coming week after week, if you start well then it can really set you up quite nicely.”
One problem all the batsmen are going to face are the lively wickets that go hand in hand with starting the season so early in the year, but Vasconcelos says he is geared up for that - and also the prospect of the return to a traditional English summer
“I know it is not going to be easy, but I like to think I am ready for it,” he said.
“I have a gameplan and a technique that can handle early conditions, so I think I should be fine and hopefully it is going to be a good summer after that.
“It would certainly be great to see the sun out, to get plenty of runs - and to get the pubs open!”