Sadler confident Northants batsmen can shine as they take on top flight bowlers
Northants assistant coach John Sadler believes the County batsmen are capable of rising to the challenge of scoring big runs in the top flight of English cricket.
Sadler, who combines the role of David Ripley’s number two with that of lead batting coach at the County Ground, is excited by the challenge of helping the Northants batters take on the best bowlers English cricket has to offer.
The County were promoted in September after claiming the runners-up spot in Specsavers County Championship Division Two, and they can now look forward to their first season in the top division since 2014.
On that occasion, Northants struggled badly, failing to win a single game, and no batsman managed to score 1,000 runs.
James Middlebrook was top of the pile with 825 runs, while Andrew Hall and Ben Duckett both managed more than 600, but it was a season of struggle, with the only man to average more than 28 being Adam Rossington, who scored 440 runs at 44 after signing on loan from Middlesex.
Last summer in division two, again nobody managed to hit 1,000 runs, but there was a clutch of players who averaged more than 35, with Ricardo Vasconcelos (whose season was ended early by injury) top of the shop with 750 runs at 46.87.
Rossington shone again, averaging 46.29, while Alex Wakely (36.53), Luke Procter (36.42), Rob Keogh (33.81), Saif Zaib (32.6), Nathan Buck (31.88) and Josh Cobb (31.4) all made decent contributions.
They should all go into the new campaign with their confidence high, and Sadler believes they will be capable of excelling when they make the step up in level, and he feels the fact all the players are willing to learn and improve will be the key.
Asked if he thinks the County batsmen can thrive in division one, Sadler said: “There is no reason why they can’t.
“I do think there is a huge amount of talent here, but I would also say there is room for improvement as well, from everybody, and the lads I have spoken to so far have openly said that themselves.
“So I think when you get people who are highly skilled, and those people still want to improve and keep striving to get better then I think that is a really healthy environment.”
So how will Sadler go about improving things?
“We will see how it unfolds over the next few months, and I am not somebody to come in and start making wholesale changes, especially with people who have had success doing things a certain way,” he said.
“But I may make some subtle observations and subtle suggestions along the way, once those relationships are built and trust is established.
“I am not one to dive in and start changing everything, with batters particularly, but as we go on then hopefully I will have a bit more of an impact.”
One thing that could help the Northants batters is the wickets they will play on, certainly at the Test grounds, should be better than what they have been used to in division two.
But of course, the bowling will be better as well, with Sadler excited by the prospect of Northants testing themselves against the best, and believes the squad’s strength in depth will be crucial.
“It is a really exciting challenge,” said Sadler. “There will be good pitches, but I think the whole standard of everything goes up in division one.
“There is a little bit more pressure, batters coming in at seven or eight can get 100s, and bowlers bowling third and fourth change can come of and get five-fors.
“The strength in depth is much better in the first division, there is a little bit more prestige, there is a bit more pressure, a bit more hype, and everything is ramped up.
“But it is a fantastic opportunity for us, and really exciting.”