Northants braced for raid on best players

Josh Cobb could face a pay-cut if another county doesn't make a move for him Getty Images

Northamptonshire could be facing a raid on their best players as rival clubs look to exploit their troubled financial situation.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Olly Stone, Ben Duckett and Josh Cobb have all been targeted by other clubs who hope to sign them ahead of the 2017 season.

While Stone is currently sidelined with an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament - a freak injury he sustained celebrating a wicket - the 22-year-old is seen as one of the most exciting young pace bowlers in England. ESPNcricinfo understands that Hampshire lead the race to secure his signature.

Duckett, the third highest run-scorer in Division Two of the County Championship so far this season, is contracted at Northants until the end of 2017 but, as was the case with David Willey last year, the club could agree to release him should they agree a transfer fee with another club and Duckett decides he is prepared to leave.

As a young player at one of the smaller clubs, though, he offers outstanding value to a rival club. Precedent suggests any transfer fee is likely to be around 50 percent of his salary.

Cobb, meanwhile, has the option of another year at the club but is waiting until later in the season before he decides what to do. It is understood he is of interest to several other clubs with a view to white ball cricket, in particular.

Despite their well-chronicled off-field difficulties, Northants currently sit at the top of the North Division of the NatWest Blast table and can count both Duckett and Stone as home-grown players. Should the pair go on to represent England - and it is far from impossible - the club would continue to benefit from performance-related fee payments.