Boje hails Loye return
Northamptonshire captain Nicky Boje believes the returning Mal Loye can fire the club to promotion this summer.
By Joe Drabble
Last Updated: 08/04/10 1:07pm
Northamptonshire captain Nicky Boje believes the return of local lad Mal Loye will see the county avenge last season's promotion heartache this summer.
The Steelbacks missed out on a place in Division One on the final day of the County Championship season after Essex chased down 358 in 60 overs to defeat Derbyshire.
In a bid to secure a top-two finish this campaign, Northants have drafted in veteran batsman Loye and Essex off-spinner James Middlebrook, with Zimbabwe all-rounder Elton Chigumbura joining later on in the campaign.
And former South Africa international Boje believes the addition of Loye, who started his career at Wantage Road back in 1991, coupled with David Sales' return from injury, provides the Steelbacks' with a formidable top order.
"Mal has proven to be a quality player for the last 10-15 years that he has been playing," Boje told skysports.com.
"To have that quality playing in your team at number three or number four with David Sales, it just makes your batting so much stronger and adds so much depth."
A poor 2009 campaign resulted in England left-arm off-spinner Monty Panesar leaving Wantage Road in the winter to join Sussex.
Asked if Panesar's departure will increase the burden on himself, Boje added: "Yes I think so.
"Last year Monty did quite a lot of work and this year it will probably be me more doing a lot of work, but I had a good off-season and I'm looking forward to it.
"Also having James (Middlebrook) in the side it will be nice to have a left-armer and a right-arm spinner in the side for variation."
South Africa-born duo Johan van der Wath and Riki Wessels are both notable absentees from the Northants squad this season after they were denied a return to England following changes to immigration criteria.
And Boje admitted: "It's disappointing, they played a massive part for us over the last couple of years, building the side to where we are now so it's disappointing not to have them back.
"It gives opportunities to other plays and hopefully they can stand up and show what they are made."
Speaking on his return to the club, Loye, who turns 38 this year, said:"It's a new challenge for me, a challenge obviously close to my heart being a local lad and playing 12 seasons here.
"It was an opportunity I couldn't really miss. It's a bit cold and a bit miserable and what not, but it's good to be back.
"I schooled here and it's very close to my heart as a club.
"With the floodlights up now as well it's the icing on the cake. I think as a ground it's been quite a development since the old football days."