T20 BLAST PREVIEW: Ripley backing Steelbacks to make the most of home run
David Ripley is backing the Steelbacks to overcome the temporary loss of world-class all-rounder Mohammad Nabi and get their Vitality T20 Blast campaign off to a flying start this weekend.
The Afghanistan ace is likely to miss Northants’ first three matches as he undergoes Covid-19 quarantine in a London hotel following his arrival in the UK last weekend.
The news will be a blow to the fans due to return to the County Ground for Friday night’s opener against Worcestershire Rapids (7pm), and those attending Sunday’s home date with reigning champions Notts Outlaws as well as Tuesday’s Birmingham Bears showdown.
But Ripley believes the Steelbacks are still more than capable of getting their tournament off to a winning start in those three home games in the space of just five days - although he accepts it is not ideal for the club's supporters.
With the Government Covid restrictions expected to ease with regards to sporting events from June 21, More fans will hopefully be able to attend after that date, but the schedule means four of the club's seven home games - they also host Leicester Foxes on June 20 - will be played in front of a maximum of a few more than 1,000 spectators.
"Having three at home in a row is not ideal, in respect of the times that we are in," admitted Ripley.
"If one of those games had been later on, then we might have been able to have more people in to watch than the 1,000 or so we are going to get.
"So it is frustrating for our spectators that these games are all in a rush before there might be any relaxations of the rules that might get more in.
"But from a cricket perspective, it is not the end of the world to hopefully be coming out of the blocks at home.
"We know the surface we are playing on, know the boundary sizes, and we have an opportunity to get some wins on the board."
On the challenge of facing Moeen Ali’s Rapids first up, the head coach said: "Worcestershire have got Moeen, and I am pretty sure they are going to have their two overseas players available as well.
"They have a bit of history in terms of getting to two finals in recent times (2018 & 2019), so it is a tough start for us.
"We played them in the first game last year and played really well at Worcester and beat them down there, and it is all about playing your best cricket on the night.
"Both teams have got plenty of match winners, it is just who has the better of it on the evening and then what's your overall standard like from the whole 11.
"It's good to be on TV having that first game on Sky, the weather is set good and there are people in the ground, although not as many as we would normally like.
"There is a lot to look forward to."