County news June 3, 2014

Smith promises Northants shake-up

Jon Culley at Wantage Road

Northamptonshire chief executive David Smith has promised a shake-up at Wantage Road after the county's fifth loss in six matches left them adrift at the foot of the Division One table but insisted head coach David Ripley's position is safe.

Smith was at the helm when Ripley's predecessor David Capel was sacked in mid-season two years ago but, speaking after the 271-run defeat by Yorkshire, Smith said that responsibility lay with the players for Northamptonshire's poor start following promotion last season.

"That's our fifth loss in six games and it is clearly not good enough," Smith said. "The level of performance is not good enough. There is a huge difference between the standard of cricket in Divisions One and Two and clearly at the moment we are well adrift but it is not a coaching issue, it is a playing issue and we have to address that.

"We rely on our senior players but there are some senior batsmen who are not getting runs. We have not got a single hundred yet in the Championship.

"Based on the evidence so far some of our players have found the step up to be one too far. But we knew there was a gap and that shouldn't surprise anyone. We want the kind of players who relish the opportunity and relish the fight.

"We can't be picking the same team and making the same mistakes, therefore we have to look to make changes, and so the side we pick against Sri Lanka this week will provide the opportunity for other players to put their names forward."

Smith said Ripley retained his full support in what he described as "a project" aimed at putting this club back on its feet.

"David is under no pressure whatsoever. We have a project at this club, David and I will work together and over the next three to four years we will get this club back on its feet.

"He and the coaches are working tirelessly to put things right. In terms of accountability and responsibility the players have to put their hands up. They are letting themselves down at the moment because they are better than that.

"Derbyshire got to grips with the first division but too late and we want to avoid that happening to us. We have 10 games left and we have to ensure that our level of performance is far more competitive than it has been.

"We won promotion on merit and earned the right to be here. Now we have to earn the right to stay in the first division."