Ripley ready to take Nabi gamble as Steelbacks target Blast boost

David Ripley admits it is ‘a bit of a gamble’ for the Steelbacks to throw star overseas signing Mohammad Nabi straight into the action at Derbyshire Falcons on Thursday night - but it is  probably a risk worth taking.

Mohammad Nabi is set to be thrown straight into Vitality Blast T20 action against Derbyshire Falcons on Thursday night
Mohammad Nabi is set to be thrown straight into Vitality Blast T20 action against Derbyshire Falcons on Thursday night

The Afghanistan all-rounder has been in mandatory Covid-19 quarantine for the past 10 days after arriving in the UK, and is due to be released from isolation on Thursday morning.

Ripley revealed the club will be picking the player up from his London hotel and driving him up the M1 for a fitness assessment at the County Ground, before deciding whether the player will be involved against the Falcons.

But with the Steelbacks having lost their first three matches of the Vitality T20 Blast campaign, and with skipper Josh Cobb ruled out for up to three weeks through injury, the experienced Nabi could find himself thrown straight into the fray in Derby just 10 hours after a near two-week stint stuck in a hotel room.

Steelbacks head coach David Ripley

It is not an ideal situation, but Ripley is hoping the 36-year-old, who is well used to travelling the globe to play in T20 tournaments, can take it in his stride.

Asked if he knows what sort of shape Nabi is in after his quarantine, Ripley said: “No, I have no idea.

“We will pick him up at 9 o’clock on Thursday morning, we will bring him here and we will have a look at him.

“He has been allowed to do some running while in quarantine, but he obviously hasn’t been practicing his yorkers or his death hitting, so it might be a bit of a gamble.”

But in times of trouble, gambles sometimes need to be taken, and after three home defeats on the spin, and Tuesday’s embarrassing batting collapse against Birmingham Bears when seven wickets went down for just 17 runs, Ripley is keen to get Nabi quickly into the action.

“I did say at the start that if we were in reasonable shape then we wouldn’t be rushing him, but we are not in reasonable shape, we have played three, lost three,” said the Steelbacks head coach.

“The idea will be getting him back in, even if we bat him down the order a bit, and his bowling I am sure won’t have gone very far in two weeks.

“I still think he will have something to offer us, but physically he will have to feel like he wants to play and that will be up to him.

“We won’t force him out there but the early signs are that he is keen to get to Derby and get involved.”

Nabi hasn’t played any cricket since May 2, when he turned out for Sunrisers Hyderabad in a defeat to a Jos Buttler inspired Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.