Steelbacks building T20 momentum as Lightning come to town
What a difference a week has made for Northants Steelbacks.
Though they have only risen two places in the NatWest T20 Blast North Group, the lift in morale and belief has been palpable.
From sitting bottom of the group with three defeats from three, the seventh-placed Steelbacks are now just three points adrift of top spot.
Wins against Derbyshire and, most impressively, Yorkshire in the space of three days has catapulted David Ripley’s men back into top-four contention.
And had they not seen the rain ruin their game at Leicestershire, which was sandwiched inbetween the Derbyshire and Yorkshire clashes, they could be sitting even prettier.
Ripley had stressed that it’s not how you start but how you finish.
He impressed upon his audience at the end of games that it’s all about momentum.
But until you get that first win, those words can seem hollow.
Northants backed up their head coach’s belief with a convincing win against Derbyshire at the County Ground last Thursday.
And that confidence carried into Sunday’s clash at Headingley, where a star-studded Yorkshire team were slayed by eight wickets.
“It’s been a great week,” Ripley admitted. “We targeted the idea of getting momentum and that’s come from these games.
“We’re looking forward to our next game.”
That next game comes against Lancashire Lightning at the County Ground on Friday night (start 6.30pm), and Ripley’s message won’t change.
He knows that, win or lose, his men, who have won two of their six matches so far, will still be in the mix, with a total of 14 games to be played.
“It’s about winning games at the right time,” Ripley said.
“We didn’t plan to lose our first threee matches, but we’ve showed some character to put ourselves back in mid-table.
“We’re really looking forward to the rest of the competition.”
Lancashire come to Northampton on the back of a defeat from the penultimate ball against Worcestershire Rapids at Old Trafford on Thursday.
Chasing Lightning’s 163 for five, Worcester won with a ball to spare thanks to a huge six from Ben Cox.
The defeat means Lightning drop to sixth in the North table, just one place and one point ahead of the Steelbacks, with Worcestershire going top.
The table is so tight that the Rapids are just three points ahead of seventh-placed Northants.