Steelbacks skipper Cobb welcomes T20 Blast selection headache
Skipper Josh Cobb admits he is expecting plenty of selection headaches during the Steelbacks Vitality T20 Blast campaign which starts this Friday night against Worcestershire Rapids at the County Ground (7pm).
Northants go into the competition with a wealth of riches to select from, with an in-form and fully-fit squad being further enhanced by the arrival of overseas signing Mohammad Nabi.
On his arrival, the Afghanistan all-rounder will partner up with another T20 overseas specialist in Wayne Parnell, who has already impressed in the red ball game as the County have enjoyed an excellent LV= Insurance County Championship campaign to date.
The four-day squad will now spend this week honing up their white ball skills, joining up with the likes of Cobb, Richard Levi, Parnell, Charlie Thurston and Graeme White who have spent the past week or so playing for Northants IIs in the second team T20 competition.
Ricardo Vasconcelos, Adam Rossington, Ben Sanderson, Nathan Buck, Rob Keogh, Tom Taylor, Saif Zaib and Emilio Gay all played for the IIs in a final-ball one-wicket defeat to Warwickshire at Desborough on Tuesday, with the visitors fielding a full-strength first team (match details at base of story).
Add to the mix the likes of fast bowler Brandon Glover, who has been playing for the Netherlands against Ireland in a one-day series, Gareth Berg, Luke Procter and Ben Curran, and there are certainly decisions to be made by Cobb and head coach David Ripley.
Asked how the build up has gone, Cobb admitted: "I would have liked to have had more time for preparation, but with the schedule the way it is, it is difficult to find time for that.
"But I do feel we are in a very good place as a squad.
"If you look at Brandon Glover, Saif Zaib, young lads like that who had a full competition last year and are coming off the back of that, along with everybody else that has got the experience.
"They are youngsters who have now got games under their belt as well and can now really stamp their authority on the competition.
"So we are in good shape, and we have the overseas players to fill the gaps."
And he added: "It is not going to be easy picking the team.
"There are guys that haven't necessarily played a lot of T20 cricket in the past couple of years, but have scored mountains of runs in the Championship side.
"Their form will come into the equation as well, and although it's not easy letting people know they are not playing, but it is also a good thing that we have got those selection headaches."
Friday's match is the Steelbacks' first of the competition, but it will be the Rapids' second as they start their campaign with a New Road clash with reigning champions Notts Outlaws on Wednesday night.
The Oulaws visit Northampton on Sunday as the Steelbacks kick off their schedule with three home matches in a row, the third of which sees Birmingham Bears in town next Tuesday.
* NORTHANTS IIs were beaten by one wicket by Warwickshire IIs in the second team T20 competition at Desborough CC on Tuesday afternoon.
The County top three of Charlie Thurston, Adam Rossington and Ricardo Vasconcelos all scored 27 apiece from 15, 17 and 21 balls respectively, before Saif Zaib and Tom Taylor both then hit 34 from 27 and 25 balls!
Northants posted 165 for nine in their 20 overs, but it wasn't quite enough as Warwickshire got home off the final ball of the match, having at one point been reduced to 116 for eight.
Former England man Tim Bresnan was the match winner, clubbing Ben Sanderson back over his head for four off the last delivery to win it.
Bresnan ended on 26 not out from 12 balls and opener Ed Pollock hit 50, with six other players - including Adam Hose, Will Rhodes and Sam Hain - chipping in with double figure scores.
For the County, seamer Jack White took three for 11 from three overs, and there were two wickets apiece for Taylor and Nathan Buck.
Sanderson did also claim a wicket, but his four overs went for 54.