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Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Tuesday, 6 April 2010 15:10 UK

Northants captain Nicky Boje targets silverware

Northamptonshire Cricket
Northamptonshire County Cricket Club 2010

Northants skipper Nicky Boje will aim to take at least one piece of silverware this season as a mark of his team's recent progress.

Northants reached the Twenty20 finals, finished fourth in the Pro40, and missed out on promotion in the County Championship by one point in 2009.

Boje told BBC Radio Northampton he is seeking genuine progress this year: "We're doing better every season.

"We have to see if we can take one step forward and get some silverware."

The off-season at Wantage Road has been nothing if not engaging.

South African pair Johan van der Wath and Riki Wessels were unable to return because of problems with their working visas.

Star batsman Virender Sehwag was poised to join the county for the Twenty20 campaign, only to have his 'no objection certificate' cancelled by India's Board.

And two of the club's spinners, Monty Panesar and Graeme White, left for Sussex and Nottinghamshire respectively.

But James Middlebrook will bolster the Northants' spin attack after joining from Essex.

The 32-year-old took four wickets for the MCC against Durham in a pre-season match in Abu Dhabi.

"We'd like to compete in all three [competitions]," he said.

"We've got experience with Nicky Boje, Mal Loye and Andrew Hall. Then there's young lads like Alex Wakely and David Willey, mixing together to form a winning side."

Head coach David Capel says he has thought hard about the blend of players he now has.

"It's in everything we do. If you've got the right quality of players in there, with the right kind of attitude and spirit, then there are going to be leaders that others can follow," he said.

Batsman Paul Harrison impressed on trial for Northants last season, and has secured a one-year deal.

Loye looks to end career with Northants

Zimbabwean all-rounder Elton Chigumbura is the club's overseas signing, and Loye returns to his hometown club after seven seasons at Lancashire.

The 37-year-old is targeting County Championship promotion as his main aim.

"The ultimate game is test cricket and every season, the goal is to win the championship," he said.

"Twenty20 is for a different audience. I just hope it's not overkill with 16 games and finals day."

The partnership he is expected to form with ex-captain David Sales, back after missing out on 2009 entirely with a knee injury, is an exciting prospect for the club's supporters.

And David Willey, son of former Northants player and current umpire, Peter, burst onto the scene last season.

In the Twenty20 campaign, he was the club's most economical bowler, collecting 10 wickets in 22 overs at an average of 11.3. His form led him to be selected for England Under-19s.

Willey recognises that his second season will be a lot harder: "I've worked on weaknesses that I thought the opposition may have seen in me.

"Hopefully I can come back with that being more of a strength than a weakness."

"You've got to make the talk on the field, you can't do it off the field," says captain Boje.

"A few guys need to stand up and show what they're made of."

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see also
Middlebrook set for new challenge
02 Apr 10 |  Northants
Sehwag's Northants move cancelled
30 Mar 10 |  Northants
Chigumbura signs Northants deal
15 Mar 10 |  Northants
Northants complete double signing
18 Dec 09 |  Northants
Peters wary about 2010 schedule
30 Nov 09 |  Northants
Spinner Panesar signs for Sussex
16 Nov 09 |  Sussex
Visa problems for Northants pair
01 Dec 09 |  Northants

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