A solid batting line-up led by the redoubtable Stephen Peters, the promising Rob Newton and Alex Wakely as well as the experienced David Sales has been strengthened by the arrival of Kyle Coetzer from Durham. On the bowling front, Chaminda Vaas is back and along with Jack Brooks provides a strong new ball attack. Andrew Hall, Niall O'Brien and James Middlebrook can all be relied upon for lower-middle order runs. David Willey is fit after mising all but the last game of 2011.
Having faltered at the final hurdle twice, will they do a Devon Loch again if the finishing post looms? The bowling has been weakened by the loss of David Lucas and is perhaps too over reliant on Vaas and Brooks making in roads with the new ball. Yorkshire and Hampshire especially look to have much stronger squads.
He may be 38, but Chaminda Vaas still provides wickets, runs and an inspiring sight for the likes of Brooks.
Look out for
A fast start, a dramatic stumble and an agonising finale - it is the Northants way.
5th - The squad doesn't look as good as last season and this year they have Yorkshire and Hampshire to contend with.
2011 County Cricket Review: including Heroes of the Season, Best and Worst XIs, and a whole host of other nonsense
County Championship 2011 Preview - Northamptonshire
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