'No excuses' admits Sadler as 'world-class' Stirling puts Steelbacks to the sword

Head coach John Sadler admitted there were 'no excuses' as the Steelbacks endured a chastening 125-run hammering at the hands of Birmingham Bears in Thursday night's Vitality Blast opener at Edgbaston.

By Jeremy Casey
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 10:47 pm
Northants Steelbacks could find no answer to Paul Stirling and Sam Hain's batting onslaught at Edgbaston (Pictures: Peter Short)
Northants Steelbacks could find no answer to Paul Stirling and Sam Hain's batting onslaught at Edgbaston (Pictures: Peter Short)

Former Northants man Paul Stirling clattered a scintillating 119 from just 51 balls as the Bears ran riot with the bat to total 207 for three in just 16 overs, the match having been reduced due to a rain delay.

The Irishman was in imperious form, playing shots all round the grouns, and took 34 from one James Sales over, a brutal welcome to T20 cricket for the teenager on his debut.

In reply, the Steelbacks couldn't even bat out their 16 overs as they were crumbled in the face of scoreboard pressure and quality spin bowling from Danny Briggs and Jake Lintott and were rushed out for a paltry 81 in 14.2 overs.

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It was a tough T20 debut for Steelbacks teenager James Sales

It was the worst possible start to the Blast campaign for Sadler's team, with the bowlers enduring a nightmare evening, and the batters all failing to perform - Chris Lynn and Saif Zaib joint top-scored with just 16.

But although Sadler accepted his team were way off the pace, he also felt his team were on the wrong end of two 'world-class' batters, with Sam Hain supporting Stirling with 66 not out from 32 balls.

"No excuses, we just didn't execute well enough, but we know how good Paul is and tonight was one of those nights for him," said Sadler, who was taking charge of his first Blast game as head coach.

"Sometimes you just have to take your hat off to a guy and say well played, and that was the case tonight for Stirlo.

Paul Stirling hammers one of his 10 sixes against the Steelbacks

"Sam Hain played beautifully as well but we were not as good as we want to be."

And he added: "I don't know if the game had gone at the halfway point, but it was certainly going to be tough to get 200-odd runs in 16 overs with a reduced powerplay.

"I don't think we did any of our disciplines well enough tonight but we have to dust ourselves down and go again.

"They were tough conditions, the ball got very wet and it was very greasy but we were bowling at two world-class players."

A delighted Stirling said: "I don't think we could have ticked off more boxes than that.

"We are delighted to get the win and, from a personal point of view, I was delighted to score some runs and then see the lads bowled so well and take wickets so quickly.

"It is a brilliant start but it is only a start.

"It just seemed to be my day and Sam Hain's as well. He is such a classy player and made me look like the big brute of the partnership.

"He really helped me at the other end when I was not going quite so well. We seemed to dovetail well.”

Northants get a quick opportunity to shrug off their Edgbaston battering when they host Durham in their second North Group clash at the County Ground on Friday night (start 6.30pm).

The north east side will travel to Wantage Road in good heart though after they saw off Leicestershire Foxes by 54 runs in their opener at Grace Road tonight.

Durham made 184 for eight and then bowled the Foxes out for 130, Paul Coughlin taking four for 15.

Quotes courtesy of Brian Halford