Head coach Ripley confident Steelbacks can be power players in Vitality T20 Blast

David Ripley believes the Steelbacks have the batting power to make them serious contenders in this summer’s Vitality T20 Blast.

By Jeremy Casey
Thursday, 20th February 2020, 12:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th February 2020, 12:52 pm
Kieron Pollard
Kieron Pollard

The double signing of West Indies white-ball skipper and T20 specialist Kieron Pollard as well as Ireland international Paul Stirling has added an extra dimension to a Northants side that struggled in the 2019 competition.

Injuries to Richard Levi and Ricardo Vasconselos were an issue, and then too often the Steelbacks batting line-up failed to fire.

It was often top heavy with big hitters at the top of the order, and if they lost early wickets then Ripley’s men at times struggled to post competitive totals.

Paul Stirling

But with Pollard contracted for eight matches, and Stirling coming in when the West Indian is not available, the batting looks to have more depth and, crucially, more six hitting firepower.

The Steelbacks are now set to be able to field a batting line-up of Josh Cobb, Levi, Adam Rossington and Alex Wakely, who are all players who regularly clear the ropes, with Pollard and Stirling to add.

Throw into the mix the likes of Vasconcelos, Rob Keogh, Faheem Ashraf and Graeme White, and it certainly looks a unit capable of setting and chasing down big totals.

“We were a little short of power last season,” admitted Ripley.

Adam Rossington

“Obviously Richard Levi missed the start of the competition through injury, and he is one of our power players, and it affects you if you miss a power player.

“Our squad as it was last season, that did affect us, although I’m not making excuses because we didn’t play well, and we weren’t consistent.

“We had glimpses of Josh Cobb and Adam Rossington, and they were more inconsistent than they have been in other campaigns.

“Richard came back in and chipped in here and there, and we just didn’t really have anybody grab it by the throat, until the last game.”

Josh Cobb

Yes, the Steelbacks ended on a high as they chased down Worcestershire Rapids 188 for five with seven wickets and seven balls to spare, thanks to quickfire 50s from Rossington, Cobb and South African Dwaine Pretorious.

The Rapids went on to lose the T20 final to Essex, and Ripley said that performance is the blueprint for his team, which won the tournament in 2013 and 2016, needs to follow.

“We had a full-house in, Worcester at home, a good team who had already qualified and played all of their best players, and our batting line-up brought home the bacon,” said Ripley.

“That is what we are capable of, and I just think youcan’t go wrong with power players, because how often do you talk about guiding yourself home?

Richard Levi

“You need to be smart when you need to be smart, and if you only need seven an over and you are going like a train then you should win, you don’t need a guy getting caught on the boundary and then wickets starting to fall and the panic setting in.

“There is still a place for smart cricket in T20, but the majority of the games are won by guys that go in and hit the ball and have a high strike-rate.

“If we can back that up in the field, and with the ball, and with Kieron, he is always used to bowling key overs, and contributes with the bat as well, so we are delighted with the all-round contribution he will bring.”