Gay believes result was never in doubt despite battling Derbyshire pushing Steelbacks to the wire

Emilio Gay felt the result was never in doubt despite the Steelbacks beating Derbyshire with just three balls to spare in the Royal London One Day Cup on Sunday.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 9:56 am
Rob Keogh's 33 not out from just 16 balls was crucial as the Steelbacks beat Derbyshire on Sunday

Northants needed a blistering cameo of 33 not out from just 16 balls from Rob Keogh to safely steer them past Derbyshire's 177 for nine with eight wickets in hand, with Gay unbeaten on 84 from 73 balls at the other end.

In a match reduced to 28 overs per side, it was possibly a little too tight for comfort, but Gay insisted he always felt the Steelbacks were in control of the situation as they claimed their first One Day Cup Group B win of the summer.

"It went down to the last over so it was close-ish in the end, but we had wickets in hand," said the 21-year-old, who scored his first List A half-century.

"When you are in that position you don't need to panic so much because you know you have got room at the end to go harder."

That being the case, the Steelbacks still needed somebody to come in and up the run-rate once skipper Ricardo Vasconcelos had been dismissed for 50 from 60 balls.

The opening pair had put on 106 for the first wicket in 17.4 overs, and when Ben Curran was out for 14, the Steelbacks still needed 38 to win from the final 5.2 overs.

Any pressure was eased by Keogh hammering three fours and two sixes, including one to win the match, and Gay praised a player who has become a key man for the County.

"Rob played a great cameo and that epitomised his form in all formats of the game this year," he said.

"Having someone like that to calm everything down is great to have at the other end."

On his own performance, Gay reiterated that his role in the team is to bat as deep as he can, and that he believes 50-over cricket is a format that suits him.

He also hinted at a change in outlook from the Northants batters in the white ball game.

"I just see myself as the person who bats long, plays his natural game and other people come in and bat around me," said Gay.

"It is all about composure, building an innings and knowing when to go and when not to go.

"Sometimes I think we've gone a bit too hard too early, so it is all about taking it deep and being smart with our cricket."

The fact Derbyshire forced the Steelbacks so close was tribute to the troubled visitors, who looked to be dead and buried when they were reduced to eight for four after just two overs of their innings.

Jack White was outstanding with the ball for Northants, claiming four for 20 from his six overs, while Ben Sanderson, who claimed three wickets in four balls in his first over, ended with three for 29.

Both of the County bowlers' efforts were career bests.

Derbyshire's innings was rescued for a superb 64 from 43 balls from Fynn Hudson-Prentice and 45 from Brook Guest, and they ensured a challenging total.

The visitors have had well documented troubles with getting a team out on the pitch due to injuries, and head coach David Houghton was proud of his players' efforts.

"We're struggling to put sides out," said Houghton.

"We have lots of young players playing and sometimes we are being overawed by other teams.

"At eight for four we could easily have put our head between our legs and been all out for 60.

"But we fought back well, put a score on the board and took it to the last over.

"Fynn (Hudson-Prentice) has had a tremendous tournament and he's played really well and made batting look easier than any player on either side, and Brook Guest is getting some fantastic starts for us."

The win saw the Steelbacks rise up to sixth in the Group B table, and ensures they are right in the mix for a top three finish and progression to the knockout stages.

With four games to play, the Steelbacks are three points behind leaders Somerset, who they host at the County Ground on Sunday, and one point behind second-placed Notts Outlaws.

Northants are back in action on Friday when they travel to Edgbaston to take on fifth-placed Birmingham Bears.