White admits 'joke' odds inspired Steelbacks to flying T20 Blast start

Graeme White says he and his team-mates have been spurred on by the ‘joke’ odds that were being offered on the Steelbacks to win the Vitality T20 Blast.

Northants left-arm spinner Graeme White
Northants left-arm spinner Graeme White

Before the tournament started, the bookies had Northants down as 33/1 outsiders to claim Finals Day glory next month and White admits the squad were ‘a little bit offended’ by that.

The Steelbacks’ storming start to this year’s competition, winning three matches in a row to sit top of the Central Group, has certainly seen those odds tumble, and David Ripley’s side are now a 10/1 shot - although still behind the likes of Notts, Lancashire, Sussex and group rivals Somerset, who they beat by nine runs at the County Ground at the weekend.

“We have had a couple of sticky years in this competition, but it doesn’t take much to bring us together and get a really strong team,” said White, following Tuesday night’s excellent 38-run win over Birmingham Bears.

Graeme White (far right) was part of the Steelbacks' T20 winning team of 2016

“I think we were a little bit offended by our odds at the beginning of this competition, as they had us down at 33/1 and I think that is a bit of a joke.

“That has kind of spurred us on a little bit, and hopefully in five games’ time teams are going to be looking at it and thinking ‘we don’t want them in the quarters’.

“It is an exciting time, and I am loving being around these guys, it has been good.”

The Steelbacks won the T20 in 2013 and 2016 and were also runners-up in 2015.

White, who has taken five wickets in three matches so far this season, was at the club in 2013 and played in the latter two finals so knows exactly what it takes to be a success in this competition.

And he is getting a very good vibe from the class of 2020.

Asked how the current squad compares to the ones that did so well previously, White said: “It is a very similar group of players.

“In a T20 team you need match winners, you need some young flair and you need some exuberance in the field from those players, but you also need that experience.

“Nothing beats that with the bat or the ball, or with the captain having the calmness to speak to the bowlers when it is getting a little bit sticky. You can’t buy that.

“You look at our team, and a lot of people will think ‘there are quite a lot of old players there’, but I see that as a real positive.

“We are going to get ourselves into tough situations, but when you have been there, done it and worn the t-shirt it is a lot, lot easier to find the right solution.

“When you look in our changing room we have leaders, we have a lot of people who have played a lot of cricket, and with the youngsters that do come in and play we give them the freedom to enjoy it and express themselves, and that’s how it should be.

“It should be that kind of platform for them to go out and do that, and I think we do that as a squad.”

The Steelbacks are back in action tonight (Thurs) when they play a ‘home’ match against Gloucestershire at Edgbaston (start 6.35pm).

They are the second of a double bill being shown live on Sky Sports, with the first match seeing Somerset take on Worcestershire (1.05pm).

Head coach David Ripley's only injury worry concerns batsman Adam Rossington, who missed the win over Birmingham due to a finger problem.