Ripley happy with Northants as they hit halfway point in Championship campaign
David Ripley has declared himself well satisfied with the position Northants find themselves in at the halfway point of the LV= Insurance County Championship Group 3 campaign.
But he also admits the recent heartbreaking one-run defeat to Yorkshire at Headingley still rankles!
With five of the 10 group matches played, and having faced all of their rivals once, the County are in third place, 18 points off the second-placed White Rose, and 25 behind leaders Lancashire.
The top two from each of the three groups qualify for the play-offs to compete for the County Championship title at the end of the season.
Northants made crucial ground last weekend as they thrashed Sussex by an innings and 120 runs as the top two were only drawing, and heading into the second half of the group stage Ripley feels his side are in good shape, although he knows it could have been even better.
“We are pleased because I think we have played very well, and the two games we have lost we had every right to think we were badly done to,” said the head coach.
“Against Lancashire we were within a few overs of getting draw and could have got eight points each which would have made a big difference.
“Then you have the Yorkshire loss, and I still can’t quite get rid of that at the minute.
“If we had won you would look at the table and we’d be second and they’d be third.
"It was such small margins and that game will take a bit of shaking off.”
The County are without a fixture this week, before hosing Lancashire next Thursday (May 20), and there is all to play for - especially as the top two haven’t met yet.
“Yorkshire and Lancashire have to play each other twice, so that will help anybody behind them, because they will be taking points off each other,” said Ripley.
“If we can repeat in the next five games how we have played in the first five then I am sure we will be looking at the right end of the table”
The win over Sussex last weekend was as emphatic as it gets, with the visitors never recovering from collapsing to 25 for seven on the first morning.
Ben Sanderson took 10 wickets in the match and Gareth Berg nine as the south coast side were taken to the cleaners, and Ripley was delighted with his players.
“It did a bit on that first morning, but we still bowled very well, and then we went and got 400 and full batting points,” said the head coach.
“Then, when it should have been easier for batting, we still bowled Sussex out, so we were really good.
"On the Sunday we thought we would have the whole day and I was ready for the long haul, maybe having to use the second new ball at some stage, perhaps having to get through the tail after tea.
“I didn’t think we would have won and be having a beer by lunchtime!”
Sanderson and Berg not surprisingly grabbed the headlines, but equally as important to the win was Saif Zaib’s brilliant 135 that helped Northants to 441 for nine.
It was his first century for the first team, and Ripley said: “It’s great when you see those young players achieve those kind of milestones, and I find it quite emotional.
"To see Saif getting a pat on the back from all of his team-mates was really great.
“It was a very emphatic innings as well, and he played so well. I don’t think he gave a chance, and he looked calm and in control.
“They tried the bouncer stuff with him and he got through that. He played the spin very well, and it was a really fine innings.”