BLAST OFF! Skipper Cobb wants Steelbacks to 'hit the ground running'

Skipper Josh Cobb has stressed the importance of the Steelbacks 'hitting the ground running' in the Vitality Blast.

By Jeremy Casey
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 10:06 am
Steelbacks skipper Josh Cobb
Steelbacks skipper Josh Cobb

Northants begin against Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston on Thursday night (start 6.30pm), the first match of a quickfire 14-game North Group campaign.

The group stage will be all over by July 1, with the Steelbacks playing their first eight games in the space of just 15 days.

And Cobb says he and his team can't afford to endure a start such as the nightmare one they had last summer, when they lost five of their first six matches, with the other being rained off.

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"We have tended to start slowly, so that is one thing we need to put right," admitted Cobb."Because two weeks into the competition you could be out of it if you don't hit your straps. It is a condensed competition and we need to start well and hit the ground running."

Following Thursday's trip to Birmingham, the Steelbacks host Durham on Friday and then travel to Notts Outlaws on Monday night, before a home clash with Leicestershire next Wednesday.

Steelbacks go into the Blast having had just a few days to get their white ball heads on, having completed a Championship draw with Kent on Sunday evening.

It's not an ideal preparation, but Cobb said: "There will be a couple of teams that have missed the last round of Championship games, but on the whole everybody has been playing until Sunday and then got a couple of days to prepare.

"That is part and parcel of cricket these days.

"Playing the Blast is going to be a big change in pace. We have done a lot of time in the field and some of it has been a tough slog, but we are ready for the change up now.

"It is a bit more about expressing yourself, and enjoying yourself as well. It is always a tournament the players look forward to, and it will be great to get the crowds in as well."

There will be a new look to the Steelbacks line-up this year, with stalwarts and batting powerhouses Richard Levi and Adam Rossington both having left the club.

They have been replaced with overseas pair Chris Lynn and Jimmy Neesham, although the latter is set to miss at least the first two matches due to his Indian Premier League commitments with Rajasthan Royals.

And Cobb feels that, despite Levi and Rossington's departures, the batting line-up is 'a real strength'.

"We have lost some power, but it was an area where we had to add as well and we have done that," said the skipper.

"I think our batting line-up does look powerful with some dynamic players further down as well, with Lewis McManus in there.

"I have not seen much of Lewis's white ball cricket, but having seen him in the nets he looks powerful as well. It looks like he has all the shots, so we are looking in a good place on the batting side of things.

"With the bowling, Matt Kelly staying on (to cover for Neesham) is useful, and we will have to get a little bit funkier with that, but our batting is a real strength."