Cricket

Northants ring the changes after relegation

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Northamptonshire are making sweeping changes to the squad following their relegation to Division Two.

James Middlebrook is the latest to be released, despite some impressive innings this season.

At 37, Middlebrook looks set to carry on playing and could be snapped up by another county, and is already being linked with Leicester, who are looking to bring in experience.

Too reactive?

From outside the club, it appears that an unnecessary culling spree has already begun in reaction to their demotion, particularly with regards to players over 30.
Indeed, by next summer, members fear that the team who take to the field will be almost unrecognisable.

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Northants’ Chief Executive, David Smith, has explained the changes to fans, blaming a lack of experience on the part of the younger players, combined with the age of some of the older ones.

“We have decided we require a young, more dynamic squad”, he told ESPNcricinfo.
“The season offered so much and has delivered so little...We simply haven’t performed this year and in-action is not an option”, he added.

Long list

Andrew Hall, former captain David Sales, and Matthew Spriegel will all join Middlebrook in being let go at the end of the current season when their contracts expire.

In addition, several members of the squad have been told they have permission to talk to other counties, and can leave if interest arises. The highest echelons at the club have compiled a long list that includes one-day captain Kyle Coetzer, who also skippers the Scotland national side.

David Murphy and County Championship captain Stephen Peters are also on that list.
The likely departures of Coetzer and Peters mean Alex Wakely, who is returning from an Achilles injury, will be captain in all formats, in a further structural twist.

Relegation means that the money available for transfers and wages will be reduced, though this season they have had the largest cricket budget in the club’s history.

New faces

However, it is not just the exit door that is in motion at Wantage Road. Head coach David Ripley – whose future is not under threat - has already res-signed Adam Rossington, and will welcome Josh Cobb, who has signed on a two-year deal from Leicestershire.

Richard Levi, who is already at the club presently, hopes to sign as an overseas player, while a deal to sign South African international Rory Kleinveldt is also on the horizon. A move for Kleinveldt fell through earlier this season due to injury, and their consistent failure to sign overseas players has been touted as one of the reasons for the Steelbacks’ remarkable demise.

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