Steelbacks’ unbeaten run ended in crushing style

Alex Wakely made 59 from number five for the Steelbacks
Alex Wakely made 59 from number five for the Steelbacks
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Northamptonshire’s five-match winning streak in the Yorkshire Bank 40 came to an end at Trent Bridge as Nottinghamshire claimed an emphatic six-wicket triumph.

The result leaves the victors just a small step from booking a place in the last four but on the flip side, has given the Steelbacks, who can’t really afford to lose to Kent on Tuesday, facing an uphill task if they are to progress.

And it was the batting, in a tipped hat to last year if not this, that was the chief culprit in the reverse.

In decent batting conditions, a score marginally in excess of 200 won’t win the majority of games but against one of the strongest line-ups on the county scene on their home patch it was barely adequate and add to the mix a seam attack that was way below its best and the ingredients didn’t make for a particularly tasty dish.

Having won the toss and elected to have first use, a solid start with David Willey to the fore provided, if not the ideal, then a decent platform from which to advance.

Kyle Coetzer, with a leading edge to cover, and David Sales, bowled by a yorker came and went but Willey deserved criticism for the way he meekly lofted to long-on after a promising beginning which included a pair of cleanly-struck sixes.

Nevertheless, his promotion to the top of the order had done part of what was intended and once Alex Wakely joined forces with Cameron White the innings was progressing nicely on an easy-paced surface.

And as the final third of their stint was entered, the foundation was there for an opening of the shoulders, especially with a renowned boundary hitter such as White in the mix but from a position of relative strength, what followed was something of a wasted opportunity.

With Wakely cruising along at better than a run-a-ball - where is this player in the four-day game? - some good support at the other end should’ve seen a far more substantial total posted but once White went the brakes were gradually squeezed.

The Australian, much to his disgust, picked out midwicket from Steven Mullaney’s medium pace and after a brief flurry, Steven Crook edged an attempted big drive behind off Ajmal Shahzad.

The remaining overs were a damp squib, especially once Wakely had directed Jake Ball to long-on, as the mixed bag served up by the hosts’ seamers proved difficult to get away.

In complete contrast, the opening exchanges of the home side’s reply were boundary-laden as Michael Lumb and Alex Hales, as is their wont, raced out of the blocks.

An eleven-ball opening over from Willey hinted at what was to come and a quartet of off-side boundaries from Muhammad Azharullah’s first effort, all via Lumb’s blade, didn’t help matters.

Things slowed down to some degree but 57 had been struck off their target by the time the fielding restrictions were relaxed.

Lumb and James Taylor fell in quick succession, bowled by Lee Daggett and suicidally run out respectively, but that only stemmed the flow for a moment before Patel joined Hales.

The opener, rather sedately by his standards, passed 50 off as many balls as he and his partner knocked the ball around, finding the boundary fairly regularly, with some ease and it was something of a surprise when Patel surrendered his wicket by hoisting James Middlebrook to long-off.

Hales did the same with the winning post in sight when he thumped a Kyle Coetzer half-volley straight to extra cover, leaving David Hussey and Riki Wessels to finish the job off with 46 deliveries to spare.