Ripley eyes better season

13 March 2019 06:19:59 EST

Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley is looking positively at the blend within his squad for 2019 after several months of transition.

The Steelbacks, twice Twenty20 champions during Ripley's tenure, have seen Ben Duckett, Richard Gleeson and Rory Kleinveldt leave Wantage Road and Steven Crook retire.

But, with aspirations to show that last year's next-to-bottom County Championship finish was a false one, the club have signed West Indies captain Jason Holder for the opening month of the season and also recruited South Africa's Temba Bavuma.

Pakistan all-rounder Faheem Ashraaf has also signed an overseas deal for the Vitality Blast while Zimbabwean international fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani has signed a three-year Kolpak contract.

In terms of British talent, Ben Curran - brother to Surrey duo Tom and Sam - Tom Sole and Charlie Thurston are all pushing for first-team recognition.

"We've invested our overseas budget on some quality players like Jason Holder and Temba Bavuma and will be tapping into their experience," Ripley said.

"Meanwhile, Ben Curran finished last season in the first team, Charlie Thurston contributed to our white-ball teams and Tom Sole broke into the Scotland international team.

"With Alex Wakely, Nathan Buck and Rob Newton all having signed new contracts as well we think we've got a good mix of overseas internationals, experience and exciting youngsters this year and are looking forward to the season."

Northants are 50/1 to win the County Championship Division 2 title this year while Middlesex can be backed at 8/1.

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