Steelbacks boss Ripley calls for calm ahead of big Bears battle

David Ripley (picture: Peter Short)
David Ripley (picture: Peter Short)
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David Ripley has urged his Steelbacks stars to stay calm ahead of their huge NatWest T20 Blast game against Birmingham Bears at the County Ground on Tuesday night.

Northants know a win would all but book their place in the quarter-finals of the competition and take them one step closer to securing a home tie.

But Ripley’s men go into the clash on the back of two successive defeats in the competition, at home to Nottinghamshire Outlaws and away to Durham Jets.

That six-wicket loss to the Jets last Friday has left the Steelbacks second in the North Group, two points behind Notts and just one ahead of Birmingham, who beat Leicestershire Foxes on Sunday.

And Ripley said:”We’ve got points in the bag, that’s important.

“We might limp over the line - who knows? The main thing is that you get there.

“At the start of the competition, if you’d given us this equation, we’d have snatched your hand off.

“If Notts are going to steam away at the top, there’s a spot for second up for grabs and a big game on Tuesday night now, playing Birmingham.

“If we beat them it would make it a very strong possibility that we’d get that home tie.

“We’ve only had one real bad day of one-day cricket, we’ve played pretty well here and against Worcester in our other defeat.

“We’ve been consistent and we’ve just got to stay calm and put one good team performance together to get us there.”

One thing Ripley knows the County must rectify if they are to enjoy success in this season’s competition is their ability to defend a total.

The Steelbacks have shown their ability in chasing, winning all five of their games when they have batted second.

But all three of their defeats in this season’s T20 competition have come when batting first.

And Ripley, who saw his side limited to 149 for five at Durham, said: “We had a poor start then we regrouped really well.

“Josh Cobb played very well in a partnership with Ben Duckett, and I thought that was a reasonable score.

“We needed a good powerplay to put them under pressure and we didn’t get that.

“We had our moments, with two new men in at one point, the chance to squeeze but we just kept leaking runs, they ran well and the fine details, one of those games that was tight, could have gone either way.

“We weren’t quite at our best but we fought pretty well.

“We want to play positive cricket. We’ve got guys at the top of the order that like to hit the ball but the pattern is we haven’t set a score very well, apart from Durham at home, even then it wasn’t a big score (the Steelbacks won by 26 runs after registering 161 for nine).

“It’s something we’re aware of - we prefer chasing.

“If we win the toss we will chase but I think there’s a lot of teams out that like to do the same so we’re going to find ourselves chasing quite a bit if we lose the toss and we’ve got to find a way to get to 180 if it’s a good pitch.”