New signing Bartlett knows a good start is key for Northants

New arrival George Bartlett is expecting the competition to be tough in the LV= Insurance County Championship Division Two this season.
George Bartlett has been in and around the Northants camp since last NovemberGeorge Bartlett has been in and around the Northants camp since last November
George Bartlett has been in and around the Northants camp since last November

Northants were relegated last summer, but hopes are high they will be able to bounce straight back with a top-two finish in the second tier in 2024.

But that is going to be far from easy, as the competition looks strong.

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As well as fellow relegated side Middlesex, the division includes the likes of fallen giants Yorkshire, neighbours Leicestershire and a Sussex side that narrowly missed out on going up last season.

It’s Sussex who the County play first up on Friday (April 5), when they make the trip to Hove for their opening competitive match of the summer.

And Bartlett knows that clash is going to be a test for him and his new County team-mates, as is every match over the next six months.

"Every team you come up against, it is going to be a tough game,” said Bartlett, who has joined the club on a three-year deal after leaving Somerset.

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"You can never go into a game and think 'oh, brilliant, a guaranteed 100', it just never works like that, unfortunately.

"Momentum is a big thing, and if we can start well, especially in red ball, then that could be huge.

"The first four games are all tough, but if we can get a couple of wins there then we can go on from that.

"Hopefully we will then have a strong enough squad, and a strong enough team, to maintain that momentum."

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Bartlett is delighted to finally be getting the season underway having been in and around the club since last November, having made the decision to move away from Taunton, a place he had called home since a teenager.

"Part of the rationale of me not going away to somewhere like Australia or South Africa was that I wanted to get to know everyone here and to get to know the set-up,” said the 26-year-old.

"That and the winter training has gone well, and I am now looking forward to the season.”

​Northants completed their short programme of pre-season friendlies on Tuesday as they played out a draw with Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.

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​The two-day match proved to be a handy exercise for the County after rain saw just 69 overs bowled in last week's three-day encounter with Oxford UCCE at Wantage Road.

Neither of those matches featured Jack White, the club's top wicket-taker in the County Championship last season.

That means it is unlikely he will feature in Friday's LV= Insurance Division Two opener against Sussex at Hove (11am), while new signing George Scrimshaw is also currently sidelined with a toe injury.

Their absence saw trialist Michael Finan feature at Trent Bridge, and the left-armer who is contracted to Leicestershire claimed four for 85 from 12 overs as the home side posted 383 for 11 in just 68.5 overs.

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The evergreen Ben Sanderson did feature for Northants, but ended wicketless from his 10 overs bowled, with the others enjoying wicket success being Saif Zaib (2-8), skipper Luke Procter (1-46) and Alex Russell (1-27).

Notts' total was in response to Northants' effort of 212 for 10 declared in 70 overs.

Emilio Gay top-scored with 39 from 84 balls before retiring, while Procter, who hit a century in the curtailed clash with the students last week, also retired after making 28 from 70 balls.

Justin Broad, who was out in the first over for a third-ball duck on Monday, was allowed a second chance to bat and made the most of it to spend some time at the crease, hitting 31 from 83 balls before he too retired.

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Northants will be boosted for Friday’s trip to the south coast by the addition of overseas signings Chris Tremain and Karun Nair.

Tremain is in the UK to play the first four matches of the red ball season, while Nair is contracted for the first seven games.​