Northants Chief Executive David Smith has launched a scathing attack on the side’s batting performances this season.
The Steelbacks sit bottom in Division One of the County Championship, having failed to win any of their opening six matches.
For Smith, the performance in the 271-run defeat against Yorkshire appears to have been the last straw, slamming Northants’ top and middle order for a number of poor showings.
The latest of those, at Wantage Road, saw the Steelbacks bowl Yorkshire out for 136, but they failed to make up a decent lead, managing just 251; the White Rose then went on to declare on 546-3 in their second innings, while Northants again mustered a feeble total of 160.
In spite of Yorkshire’s hefty score, Smith has praised the club’s bowlers, but slammed the batsmen for letting the side down once again.
Smith told BBC Radio Northampton that the “level of performance isn’t acceptable at the moment”, and that it “can’t be allowed to continue”.
He added: “we’re letting ourselves, our members, and our supporters down”, in the greatest indication yet that the optimism that came alongside Northants’ promotion was desperately short-lived.
Their success last season was perhaps a result of outplaying themselves, finally climbing out of Division Two and lifting the Friends Life T20 later in the summer.
However, Division One appears to have been a step too early; the Yorkshire defeat was Northants’ fifth in a row. The season admittedly got underway with an impressive draw against champions Durham, but it has essentially been all downhill from then on.
Head coach David Ripley will be hoping the four-day tour match at home to Sri Lanka will provide some much needed respite, and time to recoup before the next Championship match against Warwickshire on June 15th. Before that, they face Yorkshire again in the T20, but limited overs cricket may have to take a backseat as their batsmen focus on regaining their form.
In fact, James Middlebrook is the only player in the side to average over 30 this season, a statistic that goes a long way to revealing the extent of the Steelbacks’ batting woes.
Smith has indicated that the batsmen are now fighting for a place in the team, in the hope that rotation, or at least the threat of it, will provide the necessary incentive for Northants to improve.
That task has been made all the more difficult by injury; Alex Wakely has not played a single game this season due to an Achilles injury sustained in the West Indies, but even in his absence, Northants’ batsmen must do better if they are to avoid a rapid return to Division Two.
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