Revitalised Steelbacks ready for 'huge game' against Falcons in Blast

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John Sadler says he and his Steelbacks players will be ready for a 'huge game' against Derbyshire Falcons at the County Ground on Wednesday night (start 6.30pm).

The County go into their final home game of the Viality Blast North Group off the back of two sensational wins over Notts Outlaws and Yorkshire Vikings, both by the margin of 78 runs.

They followed up Sunday's demolition of Notts at the County Ground with an even more emphatic swatting aside of Yorkshire at Headingley on Tuesday, and it means they have given themselves a chance of a top four finish and place in the quarter-finals.

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With three matches to play, the Steelbacks are up to sixth and within two points of Lancashire Lightning in fourth, who they play in their final fixture, while they are also only a couple adrift of third-placed Worcestershire Rapids, who have played a game less.

John Sadler and Northants face another must-win game against Derbyshire FalconsJohn Sadler and Northants face another must-win game against Derbyshire Falcons
John Sadler and Northants face another must-win game against Derbyshire Falcons

They are four points shy of top two Birmingham Bears and Notts.

The mood around the club has certainly been lifted since last Friday night's humbling at the lands of Lightning at Wantage Road. That was the Steelbacks' third defeat on the spin and looked to have seen their campaign effectively ended.

It was all doom and gloom, but Northants now go into the date with Derbyshire with some belief and momentum after two outstanding team performances have revived their qualification hopes.

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"We will enjoy this feeling," said Sadler. "We have had some tough times together, a couple of tough bus rides and car journeys home after tough defeats, so I think we enjoy the moment and celebrate together.

"But absolutely we have to switch on for Derbyshire, it is a huge game.

"Derbyshire have got a good side and can beat anybody on their day, as we know we have to turn up. It is nought for nought and we have to start again."

Asked about how the change in form and fortune has come about for his side, Sadler said: "We have prepared the same, done everything the same, our plans have been the same, but we have just performed.

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"Our fielding has been incredible to watch and it is special to be part of a unit when we field as we did at Yorkshire.

"There is a real reward, when you are part of a unit and you get satisfaction out of your team-mate diving and saving a single, or running round the boundary and saving a two, whatever it is, as well as the special catches.

"We know it is in there, these lads are highly skilled, they train hard and they do the right thing.

"We said that eventually that wheel will turn. We have had some honest and frank conversations and we have had some tough times together, but if you come through that it brings you together as a unit.

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"I thought we were brilliant against Notts, but we said that only counts if we go and back it up, and we backed it up with a magnificent performance with bat, ball and in the field."

The Steelbacks are set to name an unchanged squad for the clash with the Falcons, who are one place and one point behind Northants in the table, having played a game fewer.

They are also on a high after their huge 144-run win over Yorkshire at Chesterfield on Sunday, and will also be out for a bit of revenge following the Steelbacks' earlier group win at Derby on May 29.

Rob Keogh could return for Steelbacks if he has recovered from the back spasm that kept him out of the trip to Headginley.

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Steelbacks squad (likely): Willey, Gay, Vasconcelos, Lynn, Zaib, Broad, McManus, Tye, Taylor, Sanderson, G White, Sales, Heldreich, Russell

Derbyshire Falcons squad: Ali, Reece, Du Plooy, Madsen, Came, Dal, Guest, Wood, McKiernana, Chappell, Thomson, Scrimshaw, Khan, Aitchison