County Championship 2021: Northamptonshire Preview

What Happened Last Year?

Despite finishing fourth in the Central Group last year, Northants came away with just one win, losing two of the other four games played in the Bob Willis Trophy.

They were well beaten by Somerset, and would have been disappointed in the defeat to Worcestershire, who they performed decently against.

Rain dominated the final game against Gloucestershire, but they fought back well against Warwickshire in the opening game for a draw, and were impressive in the win against Glamorgan.

With the bat, it was Charlie Thurston who proved the main star, with 357 runs in the BWT. Alongside Thurston, Adam Rossington and Luke Procter made a hundred, but Northants lacked consistent batting contributions.

Despite playing just two games, Ben Sanderson performed well, with 11 wickets at 15.09, with Jack White and Zimbabwean Blessing Muzarabani also making it into double figures for wickets in the season. Nathan Buck, Saif Zaib, Brett Hutton and Brandon Glover also impressed.

Key Player for 2021

Seamer Ben Sanderson is one of Northants' key men, and with the 32 year-old averaging just 19.84 with the ball in his career, it's easy to see why. Sanderson grabbed a massive 60 scalps in Northamptonshire's impressive 2019 campaign.

Northants have some fragile batting sides in their group this year, and Sanderson has the ability to bowl sides out cheaply, something that will prove vital, should the county want to challenge at the top end of the group this year.

At 40, Gareth Berg is a consistent county performer, and consistently offers impressive bowling, while contributing with the bat. If he performs regularly, he'll be a key cog in the Northants side.

And, skipper Adam Rossington will likely make useful runs.

England Hopeful

South African born, and with a Portuguese passport, it's fair to say that Ricardo Vasconcelos is an odd shout for someone on England's radar.

But, with cricket's lenient qualification rules, Vasconcelos may be available soon for England, should he wish to represent the side.

So, why him?

At only 23, Vasconcelos is young, which always helps. And, in his 38 games, has hit 5 hundreds, and 13 fifties. As a top-order batter, he could prove useful for England in the coming years, as the opener conveyor belt continues.

While his average in the 2020 BWT was 31.71, should he replicate his impressive form from Div 2 in 2019, where he averaged 46.87 in 10 games, he could appear on the selectors' radar.

Target for this Year

With South African bowling all-rounder Wayne Parnell confirmed as overseas pick in all three formats, Northants have a good extra player signed up. Mohammed Nabi has been picked for the Blast, so Northamptonshire have made some good business for the new season.

The county are in group three, and, should they hit form, they ought back themselves for a promising season. While Yorks, Lancs and Kent will be challenging, Sussex and Glamorgan will prove winnable games for Northamptonshire, and some luck could see them push one of the top sides.

Predicted Finish: 4th in Group Three

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