Steelbacks set for 'massive night' at Headingley

Steelbacks head coach David Ripley is ready for two decisive T20 matches (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Steelbacks head coach David Ripley is ready for two decisive T20 matches (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

If the Steelbacks want to stay on track for a third successive finals day appearance, they will have to get the job done against two sides who joined them at the Edgbaston extravaganza last year.

Yorkshire Vikings and Durham Jets stand in the way of David Ripley’s men and a place in this season’s last eight.

The Steelbacks head to Headingley for a televised clash tonight (start time 7pm) before hosting Durham, the team they beat in the 2016 showpiece, tomorrow.

And though the Jets have not performed anywhere near as well as the Steelbacks, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, the other side who appeared at 2016 finals day, this time round, Ripley recognises the danger in his side’s final North Group fixture.

“Durham have had their problems but they won last Friday, beating Worcestershire, and whoever turns up in T20 cricket, the margins are rarely big,” Ripley said.

“As far as that (48-run) defeat we had at home to Leicestershire last Friday, it was the largest we’ve had for a while and it’s a rarity.

“Usually the games are tight and I’m not expecting it to be any different this week.”

But before they attempt to deal with Durham, the Steelbacks must travel north to take on a star-studded Yorkshire team.

“It’s Yorkshire’s last group game because they don’t play on Friday night so it will be a massive night at Headingley,” Ripley said.

“They’ve got it all to play for and then hopefully in front of our home supporters we can play better than we did last Friday.

“Hopefully we can do what we need to do.

“I’m sure it won’t be over, it will go right to the wire.

“We can still get a home quarter-final or we could still not qualify - it’s that close.”

Yorkshire are likely to include former Northants star David Willey in their team for tonight’s fixture.

Northampton-born Willey came through the Academy at Northants before making the move to Yorkshire in 2015.

And Ripley, who welcomes Josh Cobb back from a hand injury, said: “I always like to see Dave.

“He’s kind of one of us and I always like to see him doing well, but this week it will be a bit different.”

Northants squad to face Yorkshire: Azharullah, Cobb, Crook, Duckett, Gleeson, Keogh, Kleinveldt, Levi, Rossington (wk), Newton, Sole, Sanderson, Wakely (c), Zaib.