Northants have received a double blow in their quest to stay in Division One after both David Sales and Rob Keogh were ruled out through injury.
In the latest of a series of injuries that have plagued the former Steelbacks’ captain’s career, Sales damaged ligaments in his ankle when slipping in the outfield in a Natwest T20 Blast match against Durham. Sales is feared to be out for at least the next month.
To make matters worse, Keogh has joined him on the sidelines with a broken finger, at first thought only dislocated.
There appears to be no let up for beleaguered head coach David Ripley, whose men continue to struggle in both the LV County Championship and the T20.
After the joys of promotion and lifting the Friends Life T20 Cup last season, this time around has provided something of a reality check. The leap to Division One was not made easy, as their season got off to the worst possible start with the news that limited overs captain Alex Wakely would miss the entirety of it through an Achilles injury.
With resources stretched, they are now forced to contend with the loss of another two batsmen. Though Sales has played an increasingly marginal role in the last couple of years, he had been playing fairly regularly this season, while Keogh had been coming into fine form at the time of his injury.
However, the Steelbacks have at least ended their losing streak, after holding Middlesex to a draw in the County Championship. That was followed by a 15-run victory at home to the Birmingham Bears, though it required a far from impressive total of just 139 to secure the win.
Regardless, any hopes of turning a corner have been effectively dashed by another weak batting performance against Leicestershire; Northants notched up just 82 from their 20 overs, though that match was mercifully robbed of a result due to rain.
Willey lost form
There is still time to salvage the season, but their latest injuries have made that task all the more difficult. Andrew Hall and Steven Crook have been beacons of hope in their recent matches, but last season’s young star David Willey has found it hard to reproduce the kind of performances that saw him tipped for an England call-up.
Sales and Keoghs’ setbacks are bitterly disappointing – the only consolation, perhaps, is that the season is already all but lost.
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