Sanderson 'back to his best' as seam bowler dominates title-chasing Essex

Head coach John Sadler says Ben Sanderson is 'back to his best' after revealing the seam bowler has endured a summer beset by injury niggles and fitness issues.
Northants bowler Ben Sanderson was in brilliant form for Northamptonshire against Essex (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)Northants bowler Ben Sanderson was in brilliant form for Northamptonshire against Essex (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)
Northants bowler Ben Sanderson was in brilliant form for Northamptonshire against Essex (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)

The 34-year-old was in prime form on day two of the LV= Insurance County Championship Division One clash against title-chasing Essex, claiming three for 15 from 14 overs.

His scalps included that of former England captain Alastair Cook, who became the Sheffield-born seamer's 350th first-class wicket in Northants colours.

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The haul took his season tally to 29 wickets from 10 matches played at an average of 26.68, and Sadler believes those figures would have been more if he had been fully fit throughout the campaign.

Ben Sanderson is back to his best, which is great to see," said the Northants head coach.

"But it's also – and he'll be the first to admit it – a bit frustrating as well.

"He had a tough winter last year. He had an operation they got delayed, his rehab got delayed, everything got put back.

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"It affected him throughout this season a little bit, through nobody's fault, just one of those things and he's played when he's not quite been right.

"But the way he's bowling now, he’s absolutely got his snap back and he looks a very, very fine bowler.

"He’s bowling like the Sando that we know he is."

Sanderson's efforts have ensured Northants are well on top going into day three at Wantage Road, with Essex set to resume on 125 for four, still 244 runs adrift of the County's first innings of 369.

That total was attained thanks to a brilliant innings of 172 from 167 balls by Rob Keogh, who clubbed four sixes and 24 fours.

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Excellent support came from Justin Broad, who made an unbeaten 56, but it was the innings of Keogh that has proved the difference between the sides so far.

“It was an incredible innings from Rob Keogh," said Sadler.

"The way he imposed himself, the way he took it on and the way he struck the ball was incredible.

"We know that Rob Keogh can do that. He's shown glimpses of it this season and if he can bottle that up and bring it back next year, then we’ll get the best of Rob Keogh.

"But it was an incredible innings."

Following on from their impressive draw at leaders Surrey, already-relegated Northants have once again dominated a team vying for the title in Essex.

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They were also unlucky to lose a rain-affected match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston a fortnight ago, and Sadler admits the fact his team seem to have found their feet when it's too late is a big frustration.

But he has been pleased with how his players have shown they do have quality.

Sadler said: “I’m delighted again. This last month we’ve played some brilliant cricket, played our best cricket.

"It's a shame it's a bit too late but we’ve shown that form again in this game.

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"We’ve batted up to 369 on that wicket and we've bowled beautifully as well and put them under pressure.

"So, I’m delighted with where this game is at.

At this stage we've got a lead of 200 and plenty and they’re under pressure going at just over two an over, so we hold all the cards and we're going to try and win this game."

As for Essex, with Surrey failing to get any batting points in their low-scoring clash at Hampshire, they know they need to score 400 in their first innings to claim four batting bonus points and keep alive their title challenge.

It means they have 62 overs to score 275 runs with six wickets in hand.

Quotes courtesy of Jeremy Blackmore