'Big five' are backed to come good for the Steelbacks

Paul Stirling is the Steelbacks' leading run-scorer in the Vitality T20 BlastPaul Stirling is the Steelbacks' leading run-scorer in the Vitality T20 Blast
Paul Stirling is the Steelbacks' leading run-scorer in the Vitality T20 Blast
Head coach David Ripley his backing his big five to come good as the Steelbacks target qualification for the knockout stages of the Vitality T20 Blast.

Ahead of the tournament there was plenty of talk of the Northants' batting order being the strongest in the competition, with the capture of big-hitting Paul Stirling the final piece in the jigsaw.

The Ireland international joined Richard Levi, Josh Cobb, Adam Rossington and Alex Wakely, all class acts and proven match winners in T20 cricket.

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Hopes were high that the 'big five' would take the competition by storm, and when Stirling smashed a quickfire 80 not out in the opening win over Worcestershire Rapids it was a great start.

Richard LeviRichard Levi
Richard Levi

But it hasn't quite gone to plan since, with the 52 scored by Rossington in the win over Somerset the only other half-century the quintet have produced in five matches since.

There have been flashes of what the players are capable of, but that is all they have been, and on Sunday it all went horribly wrong as the Steelbacks were bowled out for just 97 against Glamorgan.

The big five managed just 37 runs between them, but Ripley still has total faith in his key men, and is backing them to fire in the back end of the competition, starting with tonight's home date with Worcestershire at the County Ground (6.30pm start).

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Asked if he was concerned those players may be losing confidence, Ripley admitted: "You wouldn't be human if you didn't feel a little dip.

Adam RossingtonAdam Rossington
Adam Rossington

"Somebody like Josh, who was looking sensational and our best player before the competition started, he has had a bit of a trot but he has still got a phenomenal record.

"People are practising well and we have to remind them of that record, and I am sure there will be a match-winning performance from Josh between now and the end of the season, and it's the same for Levi, Rossington and Wakely.

"I think of that top five we have bigged up, I think there is probably only Paul Stirling that has done that for us so far.

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"Rosso did play well against Somerset, but it was only a 50 and it is that kind of 70 or 80 that you are looking for, which Stirling did in the first game.

"So I think there is more to come from that top five for sure."

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