Spirited Steelbacks battle hard to overcome Somerset

Steven Crook

Steven Crook

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There was a familiar, if somewhat distant, feel to the Northamptonshire Steelbacks win over Somerset.

It cast the mind back four years to the last - and only - time they reached the Friends Life t20 finals day.

The run they put together in 2009 had one distinct characteristic - they never knew when they were beaten.

And that was very much a feature of their latest success, the fifth in six games in this year’s competition.

When you find yourself 2-2 after the first over with both your overseas stars having already removed their pads, you know you are up against it.

It was left to Steven Crook to pull things around for Northamptonshire.

His 36-ball 63 saw him carry on from where he left off at Cheltenham the day before.

It also lifted the Steelbacks to creditable total and gave themselves something to bowl at.

In truth, though, it always looked at least 20, perhaps 30, runs short.

Especially when you looked at a Somerset order that contained names like Trescothick, Kieswetter, Buttler, Compton - England men all.

That was even more the case as Marcus Trescothick and Craig Kieswetter eased their to a stand of 38 for the first wicket.

But that became 38 for one. Then 38 for two. Then 39 for three.

Suddenly there was a belief again.

With Kieswetter and Jos Buttler at the crease there was always hope for Somerset.

However, the former picked out Matt Spriegel on the boundary from the bowling of James Middlebrook and the latter was run out after a combination of bad calling and good work by Lee Daggett.

With a handy cameo from Craig Meschede ended abruptly by a superb throw from the deep by David Willey, the Steelbacks had pulled something out of the bag again.

Once again Mohammad Azharullah shone with the ball.

He removed the crucial wickets of Peter Trego and Nick Compton early on and then sent back Alfonso Thomas in the last over to seal the win and figures of 4-0-16-3.

Instead of being 20 runs shy with their score, that spirited knock from Crook actually took them to a total 10 runs too good. Thanks to a spirited fielding effort, that is.

Indeed, spirit is mentioned a lot by those at the County Ground at the moment.

And, just as it did in 2009, it is really starting to show itself when it matters.