BLAST OFF! Sadler hoping 'a magic day' can get Steelbacks off to a flyer

John Sadler is hoping one of his players can enjoy 'a magic day' to get the Steelbacks Vitality Blast campaign off to a winning start against Birmingham Bears on Thursday night (start 6.30pm).

By Jeremy Casey
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 10:22 am
Northants Steelbacks head coach John Sadler
Northants Steelbacks head coach John Sadler

The 40-year-old is preparing for his first T20 campaign as Northants head coach, and is looking forward the the tournament opener at Edgbaston, one of the great cathedrals of English cricket.

It is also the venue for the Blast Finals Day on July 16, a match that Sadler and the Steelbacks will be hoping to be involved in.

But before that, there is the little matter of a 14-match North Group stage plus the knockout stages, and for now Sadler is concentrating on the first Blast match of the summer.

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Bears, who are captained by West Indies star Carlos Brathwaite, are one of the teams fancied to do well this season and a big crowd is expected at Edgbaston, but Sadler believes he and his team can poop the party in Birmingham on Thursday.

"It is T20 cricket and we know that anybody can win a game on the day, that is the beauty of it," said the Steelbacks coach.

"Most games are close, most games are tight, and I am sure this year will be no exception.

"You just hope that you do the basics well and hope that one of the lads has a day, comes off, has a magic day and puts us into a winning position.

"We know Bears are a good side, every team is going to have match winners, so a little bit of good fortune on the day always helps."

The Blast comes hot on the heels of the first seven weeks of County Championship cricket, with Northants having played six four day games since their opener on April 7.

It has been a tough schedule, but the County have started well, drawing five of those six encounters, and Sadler says the Blast and the crowds, excitement and razzmatazz that comes with it are always something to look forward to.

"Life is going to get a little bit more frantic in the coming days, but it is exciting," he said.

"I think in the first six games of the Championship have been really good and we have played some good cricket, although it has been quite attritional and tough.

"The lads have done a lot of hours in the dirt and some of it has been at quite a slow pace, but life is going to get a lot quicker, shorter, sharper and more exciting in the next couple of weeks.

"Some of us have not experienced full crowds here at Wantage Road, I haven't since I joined the club, because of Covid.

"So we are all excited, although it has been quite hard going from Championship cricket to white ball cricket with a three-day turnaround, so there will be some fresh faces that come in, and some fresh energy.

"We will now look to get off to a good start against Birmingham Bears."

Sadler is confident Steelbacks can enjoy a good competition, and is targeting a top four group finish and place in the last eight as the minimum requirement.

"The obvious thing is to say we want to win every game, and target every game,” he said.

“The first major thing is to qualify for the knockout stage, and if we can get that with a home draw then great.

"But we have to do everything we can to get into the knockout stage, because if you get there then it is anybody's game, whether you play home or away."