Northants Steelbacks skipper Alex Wakely says his side must beat Worcestershire in the Royal London One-Day Cup clash at the County Ground on Wednesday (start time 2pm).
The Steelbacks have been comfortably beaten in their opening two North Group matches, losing by 10 wickets to Warwickshire and six wickets to Derbyshire.
With six games to play and a top-three spot needed to progress, they now need to rediscover their best cricket quickly.
Defeat to Worcestershire would not end Northants’ chances of progression, but with difficult trips to Lancashire and Durham to come, a third loss would significantly increase the gradient Wakely’s side would have to climb.
“We haven’t been too good so far, we just haven’t got out of the traps and haven’t played the way Northants play one-day cricket, it’s been pretty disappointing,” Wakely said.
“It’s been a recurring theme over the past few years - we’ve been slow starters and again we’re going to have to turn things around.
“Wednesday is almost a must-win game. We simply have to play better cricket than what we’ve produced so far.
“We’ve not been the Northants you’ve seen over the last couple of years.”
Luck has not smiled on Northants so far in the competition, being sent into bat twice and injuries keeping out key bowlers.
But Rory Kleinveldt, Ben Sanderson and Richard Gleeson have all been named in the squad ahead of the clash with Worcestershire, who have won both of their opening two games.
“We’d definitely prefer to chase with our strength at the moment being our batting,” Wakely said.
“Our bowling is a bit inexperienced, we haven’t got our opening attack and we’ve got guys bowling out of position and in roles they aren’t used to.
“We just lack the go-to man with the ball. I’m not saying the guys we’ve got aren’t good enough but they are just playing in different positions and it’s a different ball game.
“It’s been harder to bat earlier on with the wickets not quite as flat. In both games it has seamed around a bit early on so teams will definitely want to bowl first. .
“It’s going to be a bit more old-school cricket where 100 from 100 balls is a great effort.”
Northants squad to face Worcestershire: Azharullah, Buck, Crook, Cobb, Holden, Gleeson, Keogh, Rossington (wk). Newton, Levi, Wakely (c), White, Kleinveldt, Sanderson.