T20 Blast knockout cricket starts now for Steelbacks
The Vitality T20 Blast quarter-finals may still be six weeks away, but the knockout cricket starts right now for the Steelbacks.
Following a disastrous start to the tournament where the County lost the first five matches they played, there has been a huge upturn in fortunes.
The Steelbacks have won four of their past five games to move up to seventh in the table and breathe life into their campaign, and with three North Group matches to go, Josh Cobb and team have given themselves a chance of a top four finish.
The Steelbacks travel to Old Trafford to take on Lancashire Lightning on Friday night (start 6.30pm) knowing a win will take them above their sixth-placed hosts, and could even bring them level on points with fourth place.
That would be a great position to be in considering the start the team endured.
Head coach David Ripley is now targeting three wins from the final three group games, and he believes his players can do it and seal that quarter-final place.
“With our recent T20 form, it’s fair play to the players,” said Ripley.
“We were in a bit of a hole having played five, lost five, so we have turned that around.
“Everybody has got to play everybody, so I haven’t studied all the permutations - I think I would be up half the night looking at that!
“So we will try and win three matches, which we think we are capable of doing when you look at those games.
“We are capable of claiming the three wins and then seeing where that gets us, and I still believe if we do win them then we would get through in the fourth position.
“We have won four of the past five, so we believe we can go to Lancashire and win.”
A boost for the Steelbacks is that Lightning will be without fast bowler Saqib Mahmood and leg-spinner Matt Parkinson following their calls into the England ODI squad, quickly put together after a Covid outbreak in the original group.
“The England situation throws up winners and losers, and Lancashire have lost two key players for the fixture,” said Ripley.
“We now have to go and try and make the most of that on Friday night.”