Ripley demands more from top order as he targets an end to Steelbacks' dismal One Day Cup run

Head coach David Ripley believes more runs from his frontline batsmen is the key to the Northants Steelbacks enjoying a successful run in the Royal London One Day Cup this summer.

By Jeremy Casey
Friday, 26th February 2021, 10:58 am
Northants haven't won a List A one day final since beating Leicestershire in the 1992 NatWest Trophy Final at Lord's
Northants haven't won a List A one day final since beating Leicestershire in the 1992 NatWest Trophy Final at Lord's

And he also feels the team excelling in the 50-over format is something that is long overdue.

The Steelbacks have carved themselves out a reputation for being a dangerous T20 team under Ripley, having won the Blast in 2013 and 2016, and reached the final in 2015.

But their record in the more traditional form of white ball cricket has been poor for a long time now, and that is something Ripley is keen to see change.

Richard Montgomerie in action for Northants in the 1996 Benson & Hedges Cup Final defeat to Lancashire. The County haven't reached a List A final since

Once a regular fixture in showpiece one-day finals at Lord’s, with Ripley appearing in many of them as a player, it is now 25 years since Northants reached the final of the major long-form one-day competitions.

That was 1996, when the County lost to an Ian Austin-inspired Lancashire by 31 runs in the final of the 50-over Benson & Hedges Cup at Lord’s, having lost 12 months earlier to Warwickshire in the 60-over NatWest Trophy Final.

You have to go back to 1992 when the County last won a List A final, with Ripley being part of the team that saw off Leicestershire to win the NatWest.

There was no Royal London Cup in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the competition returns this summer.

Northants assistant coach John Sadler

And although it may be overshadowed somewhat as it runs concurrently with the new Hundred competition, Ripley is still very keen for Northants to once again make their mark and produce the goods.

“I have looked a lot at how we have performed over the years in the 50-over competition and thought ‘why is that?’” admitted the head coach.

“If we have a look at our squad, I always think we have a good side for it and we should do better, but if we had got to the bottom of it, then we would have performed better!

“But generally, I have to say that it has been more about our batting than our bowling, and our ability to score 100s."

Northants bowling coach Chris Liddle

Northants' players managed just two centuries in eight group matches in 2019 - through Ricardo Vasconcelos and Rob Keogh - and the head coach says that's not enough.

“We need someone to go through an innings and post a score that others can bat around, and I would think that is the thing that stands out the most," said Ripley.

“So we are looking for a little bit more on that front.

“We have a lot of all-rounders that we can get on our team sheet and have good batting depth, but generally, somebody in that top five getting a 100 for you is how you post getting on for 300.

Ricardo Vasconcelos celebrates his century in the 2019 Royal London One Day clash with Yorkshire at the County Ground. The left-hander is set to be a key player in this season's competition

“If we do that, then I think we have enough about us with the ball, and the variety and skills, to build pressure and would be able to defend scores like that.

“So that will be the main thrust of doing well in that competition.”

Ripley won’t be taking charge of the Steelbacks matches in the Royal London Cup though, as it clashes with his stint as London Spirit’s assistant coach to Shane Warne in The Hundred.

Steelbacks will be managed by assistant coach John Sadler and bowling coach Chris Liddle, and will also need a new captain following the news that skipper Josh Cobb has been selected for the Welsh Fire franchise.

Red ball skipper and one day wicket-keeper Adam Rossington is also involved in The Hundred with London Spirit, while fast bowler Brandon Glover has been pouched by Oval Invincibles, but Ripley still believes Northants will have a very competitive team.

“With the wildcard picks things might still change as well,” said Ripley. “In a way I hope it does, because I know some of the lads do really want to be involved in that comp.

“But we do have Vasconcelos who can put the gloves on and he would probably be in our 50-over team anyway, he certainly was two years ago and played well.

“Also, if we got an overseas player who is with us for the season who is also going to be on that team-sheet, then I would look at it and think we have got a strong side.

“There are going to be a lot of players missing due to The Hundred, I think once you get to the quarter-finals and semi-finals, you will be pumped up and so will your supporters.

“There is still a final to be played, and I hope we will acquit ourselves well in that competition.”

And although Ripley won’t be there once the campaign gets underway, he will be heavily involved in getting things prepared.

“I will be with Spirit in The Hundred when those matches start, but I will be involved up to the point where we go out for the first game,” he said.

“I then certainly won’t be micro-managing, I will let the captain and John and Chris get on with doing it as they see it.

“But in terms of the planning, I intend to be all over that because it’s my team.”

In the Royal London, the Steelbacks have home group games against Glamorgan (July 25), Derbyshire (Aug 1), Somerset (Aug 8) and Leicestershire (Aug 12) as well as trips to Yorkshire (July 28), Surrey (July 30), Warwickshire (Aug 6) and Notts (Aug 10).

The top four qualify for the quarter-finals, which will be played on Saturday, August 14.

The semis are scheduled for Tuesday, August 17, with the final at Trent Bridge on Thursday, August 19.

The Hundred group stage is completed on August 18.