Lucky Steelbacks get out of jail

Kyle Coetzer top scored with 17 as the Steelbacks were skittled for just 82 at Grace Road
Kyle Coetzer top scored with 17 as the Steelbacks were skittled for just 82 at Grace Road
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Northamptonshire Steelbacks have obviously had the good sense to avoid walking under ladders.

I’d list any number of other bad luck inducing actions but the first should do just fine.

After a woeful display with the bat against the Leicestershire Foxes which saw them skittled for 82, the visitors were saved by the rain and escaped with a point that they scarcely deserved.

With the other scheduled games in the Natwest t20 Blast North Group going the same way it means that no ground has been lost and that is the only good thing to come out the evening’s proceedings.

The batting side of things hasn’t been particularly great all campaign but whereas 24 hours earlier Graeme White’s cameo enabled a shoddy effort to be salvaged, this time there was no late saviour.

To be dismissed inside your allocation is a cardinal sin in most limited overs cricket but to make it only as far as halfway through the 17th over is pretty dire.

The surface at Grace Road certainly offered some assistance to the hosts’ seamers, which was lavish at times, it wasn’t really ideal for a 20-over game and as such it was a good toss to win, but that doesn’t entirely excuse what followed.

With a middle order that simply hasn’t clicked, the emphasis is all on Richard Levi and David Willey at the top.

When they fail to do any damage, and they’ve hardly scored a run between them in the last few outings, the rest usually follow and it necessitates a late burst to drag the total towards the defendable.

That didn’t happen as the wickets fell at all too regular intervals, six of them to catches behind the wicket as Niall O’Brien’s five equalled a domestic record.

Matt Spriegel can be excused as he received a decent delivery from Anthony Ireland and James Middlebrook to a lesser degree as he pushed forward but the others were all driving loosely as the lack of a plan B was exposed.

Assess the conditions, play accordingly and give your own attack the chance to defend something that takes some getting rather than sticking to a set method and damning the consequences.

The rot started as early as the second (legal) delivery when Richard Levi recorded his second duck in as many days by edging a loose drive at Charlie Shreck who had started with a pair of rank wides.

David Willey miscued off the back foot to mid-off to give Anthony Ireland, who bowled his four overs straight through, his first of three victims and immediately the Steelbacks were on the back foot.

Adam Rossington and Spriegel followed before the powerplay was out and they were joined in the dugout by Kyle Coetzer and Ben Duckett, caught at deep square-leg and edging behind, before the halfway point had been reached.

That left Steven Crook as the remaining hope for anything substantial but his dismissal, for a joint top score of 17 alongside Coetzer, signalled the beginning of the end with the last four wickets falling for the addition of seven runs.

Middlebrook and White joined Crook in Ben Raine’s wicket column and Shreck, who also ended with three wickets of his own, put them out of their misery when Olly Stone chopped on to his stumps.

And just as they left the field the rain showed up and refused to go away.

Lucky, lucky devils.