Steelbacks coach Ripley keen to preserve unbeaten home record

IN LINE FOR PLAYING RETURN - Andrew Hall

IN LINE FOR PLAYING RETURN - Andrew Hall

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Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley wants his side to go through the group stage of the Friends Life t20 unbeaten at the County Ground.

The Steelbacks wrap up their Mid/West/Wales schedule with the visit of Worcestershire to Wantage Road tomorrow (Tuesday) with a home quarter-final already in the bag.

It makes a drastic change from the past couple of seasons, where the last few games have been dead rubbers with any hopes of qualification long gone.

But even though there is nothing of any importance riding on the contest against the Royals, Ripley doesn’t expect his men to show any complacency.

He said: “I hoped that, before the Glamorgan game, it wouldn’t get to the stage where everything was hanging on the last game.

“The fact that it hasn’t means the pressure is off and we can hopefully enjoy the game and the occasion and keep playing the same kind of cricket that’s got us this far.

“We certainly don’t want to switch off and it would be good to take an unbeaten home record into the quarter-final next week.”

Ripley could be forgiven for making a raft of changes for the outing, especially with a key LV= County Championship game against Gloucestershire coming up on Friday, but he thinks any changes will be kept to a minimum.

He added: “David (Willey) hasn’t missed much cricket this year and has been feeling his back a bit so he could be gioven a rest, and the same is true of Azhar (Muhammad Azharullah) who has bowled a lot recently.

“We’ve got to think about the game on Friday which is a key one, and that will influence selection to some degree.”

The likely replacements, should the aforementioned duo miss out, are Olly Stone and Andrew Hall, who have recovered from side and leg injuries respectively.

Ben Duckett is also unavailable as he is on international duty with England Under-19s in a triangular one-day tournament Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Steelbacks from: Wakely, Levi, White, Coetzer, Crook, Hall, Stone, Middlebrook, Spriegel, Daggett, Murphy, Keogh.