Ripley still confident of Steelbacks progress

Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley
Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley
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David Ripley remains confident the Steelbacks can book themselves a home quarter-final in the Friends Life t20.

Northamptonshire tasted defeat for only the second time in this season’s competition when they succumbed to a last-over defeat to the Warwickshire Bears at Edgbaston.

The County were dismissed for just 111 but produced a fine display with the ball and had the hosts wobbling before they edged over the line on 115-7 with just three balls remaining.

The Steelbacks still hold a two-point lead at the top of the Midlands, Wales & West group and are straight back into action on Sunday when they head to Worcestershire (2.30pm).

And, despite the setback in Birmingham, head coach Ripley feels sure his team can find the wins they need from the final three matches of the group stage to seal a last-eight match at Wantage Road.

“We are still confident,” Ripley said.

“We didn’t play to our best in this game but we almost won it thanks to the intensity and quality of our bowling.

“We still have the points in the bag and a lot of hard work has gone into these first seven games.

“And I am confident we can find the two wins from three matches that would give us a home tie in the quarter-finals.

“That’s what we want to do. We don’t just want to qualify. If we can, we want to try to get that home tie because that would significantly increase our chances of getting to finals day.”

Ripley was pleased to see his players make it a tense finish at Edgbaston but admitted the fact they only produced their best for “half the game” was a frustrating factor.

“We made it a close game but we were only at our best for half of the game and that is the frustrating thing for us,” Ripley added.

“Clearly we didn’t score enough runs but we have made a real fist of it at the end and we can take that into the remaining three games.

“But we have got to improve on the batting side of things. It was a good toss for them to win because one of the boundaries was very short so you never know what would be a good score.

“The pitch looked good but maybe it wasn’t quite as good as everyone thought. It was a bit two-paced.

“We initially thought 150 to 160 would be a good total but it turned out that 130 to 140 would have been a winning score. Unfortunately, we fell short of that yet we almost won it.”