Gay frustrated as Steelbacks come up short in Blast trip to Durham

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Emilio Gay was left frustrated as the Steelbacks came up short in their latest Vitality Blast North Group outing at Durham - with some familiar faces doing the damage.

The opening batter scored his maiden T20 half-century as the Steelbacks posted 161 for seven batting first, but it wasn't enough as Durham overcame a few nervy moments to respond with 162 for six to win by four wickets with seven balls to spare.

It is the Steelbacks' second defeat to Durham in the opening seven games of the competition, having also been thrashed by 10 wickets at home two weeks ago.

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And it was the same two players who caused them so many problems at the County Ground that were their scourge again, with leg-spinner Nathan Sowter claiming four for 14, and opener Graham Clark thumping a quickfire 55.

Emilio Gay top-scored for the Steelbacks at DurhamEmilio Gay top-scored for the Steelbacks at Durham
Emilio Gay top-scored for the Steelbacks at Durham

In the first match at Wantage Road, Sowter took five for 15 as Steelbacks were rushed out for 137, with Clark then hammering an unbeaten 102!

For the Steelbacks, left-arm wrist-spinner Freddie Heldreich was again the pick of the bowlers, taking three for 36.

The defeat leaves Northants in seventh place in the North Group with six points having played half of their fixtures, but they are still within touching distance of the top four and a quarter-final qualification slot.

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"It's not a nice feeling to lose the game, but we felt that we were in the game at the halfway stage because of the big boundaries here," said Gay, who started the game in place of the injured Ricardo Vasconcelos, who missed out with a wrist sprain.

"It looked as though 160 was about a par score and has been enough over the last two years here.

"We tried to use the momentum from the back end of our innings to go into the bowling powerplay and get those couple of wickets.

"It didn't quite work out that way, but we did make a game of it, we just couldn't get over the line."

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Gay was the main man with the bat for the Steelbacks, hitting 53 from 45 balls, including a six and five fours.

It is his first Blast 50, and the 23-year-old is hoping it is only the first of many.

"It was not surprising for me that I got my first Blast 50 because I know what I can bring to the team," said Gay, who hasn't played in the competition since making his debut 2021.

"It was frustrating to miss out last season, but I feel that I have a lot to give in this format.

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"I wasn't expecting to play tonight, but I was ready to take my chance. It gave us a foundation to work from.

"It was nice to do that and hopefully, I can get a few games under my belt because I really want to be involved in all three formats."

The Steelbacks are back on the road on Friday when they travel to Birmingham Bears, before having a week off ahead of entertaining Lancashire Lightning on June 16.