Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley has highlighted the contribution of batting coach David Sales for his side’s improvement as they head to Cardiff with promotion from Division Two of the Specsavers County Championship still alive.
Northants picked up maximum batting points for the first time this season in the six-wicket win against Sussex last week, led by Ben Duckett’s 193, and Ripley has spoken of the help Sales has offered.
Sales, a Wantage Road legend who scored 13,459 first-class runs for the club, has only been involved this season as a consultancy basis but his presence has made a clear impact according to Ripley.
“Having David Sales around has been really good for some of the batsmen,” said Ripley. “He’s made a great contribution. David is in the background in the nets, just talking to the guys. It’s a role we haven’t had and he’s been very good value for us.
“He loves the club and talking about batting. He’s forthright as well. My style is sometimes to sit back and as I pick the team as well it’s a different dynamic with the players whereas David can just immerse himself in chatting batting. It’s good for us.”
Duckett has been one player to benefit and made his third County Championship century in his last four matches last week.
“Ben’s been hitting the ball reasonably well all year without going on to make a big score,” Ripley said. “So having got to a hundred once the confidence has just fuelled him up.”
Batting points have slipped by Northants throughout the year and, aside from Duckett, maximum batting points wouldn’t have been achieved without a calm half-century from loanee Luke Procter, who took up the role left by Max Holden - recalled by Middlesex from his loan spell - as the cool head in the middle order.
“Max showed how you can accumulate runs with the nature of his batting and building partnerships - that was something we really benefitted from,” said Ripley. “We have a lot of impressive stroke makers in our side but you need that bit of stickability at the other end to build up towards those batting points that we sometimes have found elusive.
“Our aim was to try and find someone similar short term and also in the long term I think that’s the type of player we need.”
For the immediate future, victories is what Northants need - probably three of them from the remaining three matches to have a chance of being promoted.
Nottinghamshire, currently top of the table, do not play in this round of matches but Worcestershire - having claimed a most-impressive win at Trent Bridge last week - host Leicestershire where victory will see them put one foot in Division One.