Steelbacks coach Ripley relishing Yorkshire test

Northants head coach David Ripley

Northants head coach David Ripley

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Steelbacks coach David Ripley is confident his team can repeat their 2014 form and secure a NatWest T20 Blast victory against Yorskhire Vikings at Headingley on Sunday (start 2.30pm).

Northants go into the game second bottom in the North group table, but unbeaten in two matches following Thursday’s County Ground demolition of Derbyshire Falcons and Friday’s abandoned contest at Leicestershire Foxes.

The Vikings, who possess big-hitting Australian pair Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell in their ranks, are just one place and one point above Northants with two wins and two defeats from their four matches to date, and Ripley feels his team is in good shape to pull off a repeat their victory at Headingley in the same competition 12 months ago.

The Steelbacks coach was left frustrated by the decision to call off Friday night’s match at Grace Road due to bad light with his team in a good position, but believes his players can make up for that with a win on Sunday.

The game is the third T20 outing in the space of just four days for Northants, and Ripley said: “We kind of hoped we might win two from three, to get us back into mid-table.

“I have said before that it is about momentum, and we don’t necessarily need that now, we need it at the right time.

“But winning perhaps six T20 games on the bounce is tough, because everybody tends to beat everybody else at some stage, so we don’t want to make it impossible for ourselves.

“It looks like Finch and Maxwell will be an exciting combination for them, but we went up to Headingley last year for the first game of the competition, and they had all their star players, and we turned them over.

“So we will be confident that we can do the same on Sunday.

“It is too early for must-win games or anything like that, but we just want to be playing better cricket, more consistent cricket, and we did that on Thursday, and there were signs on Friday that we were competing hard and well.”

Ripley was born in Leeds, and is looking forward to returning to his home town for Sunday’s encounter.

“I do like going back to Yorkshire. I enjoyed going back as a player and had a bit of success against them,” said Ripley.

“I enjoy the Yorkshire cricketing public, you get decent crowds up there, you get a bit of passion, and Headingley is a nice place to play.

“They are also a good benchmark for everybody else, they are a good team, they have a lot of good quality homegrown players, they are producing England players, and they have some good coaches.

“It is a good place to go and test ourselves.”

Northants are likely to be unchanged from Friday’s match at Leicester, with Graeme White again deputising for David Willey, who on Sunday was named in the England team for the third one day international against New Zealand at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.

It is Willey’s first home appearance for his country, after he made his ODI debut against Ireland in Dublin last month.