T20 BLAST PREVIEW: Steelbacks players to relish the sound of the crowd
It won’t be a full house with 5,000 crammed into the stands, but there will be supporters inside the County Ground on Friday night - and that will be music to the ears of all of the players.
After the entire 2020 summer was played out behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, fans will be allowed to attend the Steelbacks’ season opener against Worcestershire Rapids (start 7pm).
Due to the current restrictions and the fact the Sky Sports cameras are in attendance, capacity has been cut to around the 1,100 mark for the opening home matches of the campaign, with the Rapids date quickly followed up by clashes with Notts Outlaws and Birmingham Bears on Sunday and Tuesday respectively.
And skipper Josh Cobb admits the sound of the crowd has been sorely missed.
“With the cameras here on Friday it is a chance for everybody to show what they can do, and it is just a shame there won’t be a full crowd in,” said the Steelbacks skipper.
“On a personal level, any sort of crowd coming in will be better than last year.
“It wasn’t great playing in front of nobody to be honest, and the adrenaline you walk out to bat with went missing a little bit.
“A Friday night at the County Ground in front of a full house is great to be involved in, and hopefully we will be able to see that again later in the summer.”
Head coach David Ripley is also pleased to welcome back the supporters, whose return for the Championship game against Lancashire last month was ruined by the weather.
“It will be a boost to have a crowd in and I think it will really make a difference,” said Ripley.
“It does give you a little advantage when you are on the charge with a run-chase, and every run or boundary is cheered, or if you pick up a wicket when you are trying to squeeze the opposition.
“Those little things, the little one percenters, will be in our favour.”