Skipper Cobb calls on big-match players to stand up and be counted as Steelbacks bid for T20 glory

Josh Cobb believes the Steelbacks’ experience and batch of proven match winners gives them a great chance of making waves in this summer’s Vitality T20 Blast.

By Jeremy Casey
Thursday, 27th August 2020, 11:23 am
Steelbacks skipper Josh Cobb
Steelbacks skipper Josh Cobb

And he has called on the team's big-match players to 'take responsibility' and ensure the team qualifies from the group stages

Northants start their 10-match group campaign today (Thurs, 2pm) with a trip to Gloucestershire, before going to Worcestershire Rapids on Saturday (1pm).

They then host Somerset Sabres in their first home game at the County Ground on Sunday (2pm).

Adam Rossington

It is a busy start to a tournament that has been pushed back to a late August start date by the Covid-19 pandemic, but Cobb is just delighted to get the chance to play in it at all.

And now they are about to get the T20 campaign underway, he believes the Steelbacks have got what it takes to be contenders.

With overseas import Paul Stirling joining Cobb, Richard Levi, Adam Rossington and Alex Wakely, the batting top order certainly has a powerful look to it.

And the bowling unit is also looking pretty strong, with Ben Sanderson, Nathan Buck, new boy Brandon Glover backed up by all-rounders Gareth Berg and Luke Procter, as well as the ever-reliable left-arm spin of Graeme White.

Richard Levi

It is a well-balanced squad, with plenty of experience, and Cobb wants them all to stand up and be counted, particularly the top order batters.

“I think Paul is a great addition for the whole competition, and it is great to have an overseas player around for the whole comp,” said Cobb.

“He can add impetus to the group, and we put on the board in the meeting this morning some of the experience the top three or four have got in terms of number of games, and it is outstanding.

“We are now looking to them to take responsibility and win games of cricket as they have done over many years.”

Alex Wakely

So is Cobb confident the Steelbacks can be serious contenders this year?

“Yes, 100 per cent,” he said. “It is about those individual players and match winners we have got taking responsibility, and not leaving it to the next man.

“You also need some luck along the way, but if we do that then we will give ourselves a chance of getting out of the group. For me, at the beginning of the competition that is all I ask for, getting out of the group, because once you get to the quarters they are one-off games

“For starters, we have an excellent record in those, and as also have enough match winners, and if one guy has a day out in a one-off game then before you know it you have made finals day and anything can happen.

Paul Stirling

“That is the plan, the preparation has been excellent, it is exciting, and we want to get going.”

Matches will also be played behind closed doors, which is not ideal, but the Steelbacks skipper says his and his team’s build up to the start of the T20 has been excellent.

“Personally, I can’t fault the preparation and I couldn’t have asked for more,” said Cobb, who led the Steelbacks to two wins over Leicestershire Foxes in a practice double header last week.

“We have had three practice matches in all and seen some good things. Spots are up for grabs, some players have put their hands up with their performances and selection has been really tough, which is kind of what you want.”

Players such as Tom Sole, Saif Zaib and Ricardo Vasconcelos turned in eye-catching performances in those games, and Cobb added: “Some guys performed really well and showed us things that we knew they were capable of, but certain players have done it a bit more consistently now.

“Even going to back to pre-season in Singapore in March, players were putting their hand up there, and they have now backed it up here in the practice games, so that has been really pleasing to see.

“It has given us a few headaches, but you want those kind of selection problems because it means people are pushing each other.

“We have some great options. We have narrowed it down to 12 or 13 players at the minute, but we will get to Bristol, assess conditions and then pick a side accordingly, which is a great position to be in.”