T20 BLAST PREVIEW: Skipper Cobb happy to have star all-rounder Parnell in the Steelbacks ranks
The Steelbacks may be without Afghanistan's Mohammad Nabi for the opening matches in this season's Vitality T20 Blast - but they do have another star international all-rounder ready to make a big impression.
South African star Wayne Parnell will already be a familiar name to Northants supporters for his efforts in the red ball game so far this summer, but he is known as a white ball specialist and is set to make his Steelbacks debut on Friday night.
And the 31-year-old, who joined Northants ahead of this season, will be very keen to impress against his former Worcestershire Rapids team-mates under the County Ground lights.
Parnell was a key figure in the Rapids team that won the tournament in 2018 and then got to the final a year later, and Steelbacks skipper Josh Cobb will be hoping the left-arm seamer and big-hitting batsman can have a similar impact at Wantage Road.
He has certainly looked the part in the second team T20 matches he has played over the past week or so, and he has proven pedigree having played 40 T20 internationals for SA, as well as 65 one day internationals.
"Wayne is a very good bloke to have around," said Cobb. "He is very experienced and from my point of view that has been useful.
"His two knocks against Gloucester last week were great, he got 49 and then a 50 in the second game and it was great to see the way he went about things.
"He really impressed with his batting and obviously we know what he can do with the ball as well."
Like Nabi, who is missing the first weekend of the tournament as he undergoed a spell of Covid-19 quarantine in a London hotel after arriving in the UK last weekend, Parnell has spent the past few years travelling the globe to take part in various T20 competitions.
And he crucially has a lot of experience of playing in the Blast, for Kent, Sussex and Glamorgan as well as Worcestershire.
His recent stint with the Rapids means he is well aware of what the North Group entails and what the Steelbacks' rivals are all about, and Cobb hopes that will see him settle straight into the groove.
"Wayne has travelled the world playing T20 cricket, and he has also played a lot in England, so that is a huge boost," said the skipper.
"He has played in this group before, so he knows about the opposition, and he brings valuable experience in that point of view."
Worcestershire will go into Friday night's match at Wantage Road off the back of a thrilling tie in their opener against Notts Outlaws at New Road on Wednesday night.
The Rapids looked to be heading for a big defeat as Notts coasted to 81 for one in the seventh over, chasing the home side's 152 for six.
But the dismissal of opener Joe Clarke for 45 sparked a dramatic collapse, and a run out off the final ball saw Notts have to settle for a share of the points at 152 for eight.
The other North Group match played saw Lancashire Lightning beat Derbyshire by six wickets with three balls to spare.
On Thursday night, Lightning are in action as they host Leicestershire Foxes while the other North Group match sees David Willey's Yorkshire Vikings host Birmingham Bears.