Ripley keen to learn from Shane Warne as Northants boss lands job as London Spirit assistant coach
Northants head coach David Ripley is looking forward to learning from the legendary Shane Warne after being named as the Australian's assistant for the London Spirit team in The Hundred next summer.
The controversial competition involves eight new franchises battling it out in a new 100-ball format, with some of the game's biggest names signing up to take part, including the likes of Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Kane Williamson.
Northants are officially a partner of the Lord's-based London Spirit, and Ripley, who led the County to promotion into the top flight of English cricket last summer, has been confirmed as one of three assistants to Warne, who is the head coach.
Ripley says his main focus will always be on Northants and their return to the Specsavers County Championship Division One in 2020, as well as their Vitality T20 Blast campaign, but admits he is excited at the prospect of working alongside, and learning from, one of the game's true greats in Warne.
Leg-spinner Warne claimed 708 Test wickets for the Aussies, he captained Hampshire and, after retiring from first-class cricket, captained and coached the Rajasthan Royals to the IPL title.
"I got the position as assistant to Shane Warne at London Spirit, so that is quite exciting, and he doesn't need a lot of introduction," said Ripley, who was part of the Spirit management team at The Hundred draft night in London last month.
"So being around his team and hearing what he has got to say, and the tactical side of what is a newish concept, although I don't think it will be vastly different (to the T20), will be interesting.
"Shane Warne is renowned for being an outstanding captain tactically, so I am looking forward to picking up what I can, and I see it as a chance to learn."
As well as Warne being the Spirit coach, the team will be skippered by England's World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan, and Ripley is also looking forward to teaming up with the influential Irishman.
The Spirit management group have already started work on their plans for the new competition, with Ripley saying: "We have got Eoin Morgan as our captain, and we have already had meetings, listening to what he has to say and how he says it, and I have been very impressed with him.
"So when it gets to it I will enjoy it.
"We had four meetings to try and kick around our strategy and our player list, and then we had the draft itself and it was interesting to be down there and see how that worked, and how we had to roll with the punches a bit.
"So it was interesting, but that will go on the backburner now and is something to look forward to when it comes around, but I am really looking forward to, and excited about, division one cricket (with Northants) next season and doing better than we have done before."
There will be one very familiar face in the Spirit ranks, as the one Northants Steelbacks player to be picked up in the draft, Adam Rossington, is in their squad.
The County's red ball skipper has been an outstanding performer in white-ball cricket for a few years now, but Ripley admits he is surprised he is the only Northants player currently involved - especially as the team has won the T20 Blast twice and also been runners-up in the past seven years.
"I am disappointed we haven't got more lads involved in The Hundred, because I know they wanted to be," said Ripley, who was back at the County Ground this week to oversee the return of the Northants players to training.
"It is new, and only having Adam Rossington involved is disappointing, but the upside of that is they have the opportunity to get one of those wildcard picks (each team gets to select one more domestic player following the T20 Blast group stages).
"I think we have plenty of guys that would make a strong case.
"Our T20 season last year was a bit mixed, but Josh Cobb captained the side, his economy bowling was very good, and he has a good cricket brain.
"He played some eye-catching innings which we know he is capable of, and he has two man-of-the-match awards from finals day on his mantelpiece at home, and I know he was disappointed but he is not alone in that.
"Wakers (Alex Wakely) had two good finals days and has good versatility, Richard Levi is a match winning cricketer and Rob Keogh had a good all-round campaign last year.
"Then you have Ben Sanderson who was good with his yorkers, and there is Graeme White, and basically all of our guys would put forward a good case.
"I think there is only Leicester that didn't get any players selected, so I think we are second bottom with one, which just doesn't seem right and is disappointing."
Ripley is well aware that The Hundred is something that has not been universally received in cricketing circles across the country.
Indeed, the majority of cricket lovers seem to be saying they will turn their back on it as they see it as a threat to the future of the county game.
But the fact is, The Hundred is here, it will go ahead next summer, and Ripley said: "The Hundred is not going anywhere for the five years that it is in place.
"Do I think the Blast was struggling? No, I don't. I think the Blast is a great competition, and we are getting good crowds.
"Obviously, franchise competitions are happening around the world and we are going to give it a go and see how it works out.
"I am very happy to be involved in what is a learning opportunity, and hopefully there will be full houses, and we certainly have got some world-class players coming there is no doubt about that.
"So that is one of the boxes ticked, in that the big names are coming, so we will see how we go."
Ripley's involvement with the London Spirit means he will step aside from coaching Northants for the domestic 50-over competition that will run at the same time as The Hundred.
The team will be led by Ripley's assistant coach, who has yet to be appointed following Phil Rowe's decision to step down at the end of last season.