Bhutan v Saudi Arabia at Lalitpur, Asian Cricket Council Twenty20 Cup

Okay, before getting on with Northamptonshire County Cricket Club, I wanted to say something about the two magnificent individual performances we saw on the cricket field yesterday:  James Pattinson and his second five wicket haul against New Zealand, and of course, Virender Sehwag’s awe-inspiring 219 against the West Indies.

However, better writers than me have already covered all of the necessary bases. There have been skeptics and worshippers aplenty  And I suggest you read them instead. Jarrod on Sehwag, for instance, is a good place to start.

I am much better off writing about the weather, and stadiums, and of course: counties:

Northamptonshire was formed in 1878, and was admitted to the Championship in 1905, the same year as their first class debut.

They also have never won a County title, and so the search for who has actually won all the titles continues.  They have enjoyed sporadic one-day success:  Friends Provident Trophies in 1976 and 1992, as well as a Benson and Hedges Cup title in 1980.  They did win the second division title in 2000, and they won some Minor County titles in the 19th century, but that’s really about it, and no one really counts those, do they?

The club has finished bottom 11 times, and from May 1935 through May 1939, they did not win a single one of the 99 first class matches they played.

It’s not easy being a Northants’ fan, for sure.

They have made it to the knockout stage of England’s t20 competition five out of the eight years the tournament has existed, so there is some hope in that form of the game, going forward.  Maybe.

The Ground

The club has played the vast majority of their home matches at the County Ground in Northampton:

But they have also played first class matches at the Town Ground in Kettering, the School Ground in Wellingborough, the Town Ground in Peterborough, Wardown Park in Luton, the Ideal Clothiers Ground in Wellingborough, and Stowe School in, of course, Stowe.

In fact, counting one day and t-20 matches, they have played home matches at 16 different cricket grounds.

However, the County Ground has been their primary home since 1886.  It seats 7,500 and hosted two ODIs during the 1999 World Cup, including Bangladesh’s first ever World Cup victory.

Now lots of cricket grounds were also home to football teams.  But mostly this was just for a few years, and was usually in the 19th century.  However, Northamptonshire Cricket Club shared the County Ground with Northampton Town F.C. for 97 years: from 1897 until 1994.  The club even played one season of First Division football at the ground in 1965-1966.   And, shoot, George Best and Manchester United played at the County Ground during an FA Cup match in 1970. (The Cobblers lost 8-2, a hauntingly familiar score for this Arsenal fan.)

Notable Players

The club has recently featured several famous Internationals:  Matthew Hayden, Mike Hussey, Curtly Ambrose, and Sourav Ganguly.

Dennis Brooks scored the most first class runs for the club (28,980), and Nobby Clark took the most wickets (1,102).

Looking over their current squad, however, I don’t recognize a single name.  I know that is not exactly saying much, but that still might explain some of the problems they continue to have.

Wait, scratch my last: there are two players of note:  Chaminda Vaas, the Sri Lankan quick bowler (maybe the best ever?) who played in 111 tests, taking 355 wickets before retiring from tests in 2009.  He only plays in Northant’s T20 matches, and is actually their opening batsman, and that explains their success in that format.

Also of note:  none other than Johan Botha, the South African medium-pacer cum off-spinner.  You might remember him from this post.  I know I sure do…

In a world with no rules, Captain Botha of the Border Men has one night, to break them all…

Until next time.

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