Northamptonshire head coach David Capel believes that the county’s pre-season tour to South Africa has left his squad well-prepared for the new domestic campaign despite some disappointing results.
Northants were beaten twice by a strong Warriors side at St Georges Park in limited-overs matches and also by Eastern Province in a three-day contest.
But Capel believes that the real value of the tour, which was organised after Northamptonshire made a slow start to the 2010 season, was in allowing players to spend time playing and training outdoors after a long winter of indoor preparation.
“We’re several steps ahead of where we were last year,” said Capel. “We’re going to fit in a couple more practice sessions before the start of the season and will look forward to the one-day match against Middlesex on March 31 here at the County Ground and a three day clash against Loughborough University.
“They will prove to be a good opportunity for some of the younger lads to show what they can do for the start of the season. It was a great trip for the senior players to get out there and get practice under their belts.
“For the younger lads, I’m sure it proved to be a massive learning curve for their cricket and just generally for their life experience. All the objectives we had there have been ticked off.
“The opportunities to get plenty of outside practice done, to get ahead of the game, get the arms fresh, harden the hands and stretch the legs, give players an added boost to their confidence.
“Everyone has had their first few walks to the crease, getting rid of any nerves, so that is out of the way. We need to use the past couple of weeks as a springboard into the new season.”