O’Brien seals Leicestershire move
Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Niall O’Brien has joined Leicestershire from Northamptonshire on a three-year contract.
O’Brien, who will be 31 next month, has spent six seasons with Northants having moved from Kent where he was understudy to Geraint Jones. He has played 51 one-day and 20 Twenty20 internationals.
O’Brien’s best season for Northants was 2008 when he scored 1,388 runs across all formats and was their player of the year.
A Northants statement read: “Chief executive David Smith wished to place on record the club's appreciation of Niall's six years' service at the club and wishes him every success in the future.”
Head coach David Ripley said: "It's sad to see Niall leave the club as he has been a big part of the changing room since he arrived from Kent.
“He has found himself out of the side at times this season through form, fitness and international commitments, meaning the club couldn't offer him the role he wants. He's now found some personal security in Leicestershire's offer of a three-year deal and we wish him well for his future."
Leicestershire chief executive Mike Siddall said: “We are delighted that Niall is joining Leicestershire. With the untimely retirement of Will Jefferson the club needed an experienced opening batsman and Niall fits the bill perfectly.
“Niall is a top-class international cricketer who will bring his personality and knowledge to the dressing room and we are really pleased he has chosen Leicestershire."
Northants have immediately moved to ensure wicketkeeping cover with England Under-19 gloveman Ben Duckett signing a professional contract until September 2015. The 18-year-old will compete with David Murphy, who this month penned a new two-year deal, for a place behind the stumps.
Duckett made his first-team debut in July and will take up a full-time contract when he leaves school in June 2014.
Ripley added: "Ben Duckett has had a very exciting 12 months; he has looked very assured in the second team environment, made his first team debut and forced his way into the England U19 World Cup team as a 17-year-old. He has all the ingredients to become a top-class wicketkeeper-batsman."
Besides Duckett, three other Northants academy graduates - batsmen James Kettleborough, Rob Keogh and Christian Davis - have signed professional contracts.
"James Kettleborough is a player that has shown he can score big hundreds in the second XI. He's always been a prolific run-scorer and we're looking forward to him becoming an important member of the team and push for first team opportunities,” Ripley said.
"Rob Keogh has shown good improvement over the last 12 months in his all-round game and in his overall attitude to cricket. We feel Rob will be able to contribute in all formats of the game, and we're particularly excited about him pushing on with his batting and fighting for a place in the top three positions in the four-day cricket.
"Christian Davis has been with us for a very long time, and showed all his real ability versus Kent last season, which is very exciting. We will look at building that level of consistency in his cricket to catapult him in and around the first team."