T20 BLAST PREVIEW: White ball skipper Cobb 'can't wait to get going'

Skipper Josh Cobb ‘can’t wait to get going’ as he prepares to lead the Steelbacks into the Vitality T20 Blast campaign this weekend.

Josh Cobb in action for the Steelbacks last season
Josh Cobb in action for the Steelbacks last season

Northants play their first game of the 2021 season on Friday night when they host Worcestershire Rapids at the County Ground (7pm start), and it will be Cobb’s first competitive action of the summer so far.

It will be a similar story for fellow white ball specialists such as Richard Levi, Graeme White and Brandon Glover - and Cobb admits he is just itching to get out in the middle again.

His action so far this summer has been restricted to a handful of second team Championship matches, some club cricket for Kibworth in the Leicestershire & Rutland League Premier Division (where he averaged 65.4 after scoring 327 runs in six matches), and in the past week a string of second-team T20 clashes.

And although Cobb is pleased he has at least been able to spend some time at the crease, he admits he is keen to get that Steelbacks shirt on again.

“I can’t wait to get going,” said the Northants white-ball skipper.

“There have not been too many second-team games, as we had a couple rained off, but I have played a bit of club cricket and have felt in good touch.

“But I am really looking forward to getting going with a fresh T20 side.”

The Steelbacks face a busy first week of the competition.

They play three home games in the space of just five days, with Friday’s date with Worcestershire followed by a clash with reigning champions Notts Outlaws on Sunday (4.15pm) and then the visit of Birmingham Bears next Tuesday (6.30pm).

They than travel to Derbyshire Falcons next Thursday (June 17, 7pm) before a swift return date with Worcestershire at New Road next Friday (June 18, 5.30pm).

The fixtures continue to come thick and fast, with the Steelbacks racing through their 14 North Group fixtures by Friday, July 18, when the campaign is wrapped up with a trip to Edgbaston to take on the Bears.

With so many games up front though, and three in a row at home, it is a great chance for the Steelbacks to make a flying start - just as they did last season when they won four out of four.

“I think the whole block of the tournament is pretty hectic,” said Cobb.

“Last year we hit the ground running, and we are looking forward to doing the same this year.

“Worcestershire have been very good, especially in the two previous years before last summer, they made two finals.

“So they will give us a tough challenge, as will every team, but we do know plenty about them and they will know plenty about us, and that is part of the challenge.

“We are looking forward to it, we hopefully can build on the confidence of the lads who have been playing four-day cricket.”

There is certainly something of a feelgood factor around Wantage Road, with the County sitting in third place in Group 3 of the LV= Insurance County Championship and with a great chance of securing a top-two finish.

And Cobb is hoping the players that have been involved in the red ball team will carry their form into the shorter format of the T20.

“We are close to the top two with two games to go, and there have been plenty of players scoring runs, there have been some good wickets around,” said the 30-year-old.

“Hopefully they can come back into the T20 side full of confidence, and play with that confidence as well.”

As well as the red ball players being in good nick, there have been some good performances from the likes of Cobb, Levi and Wayne Parnell in the second-team T20 fixtures, which the captain believes is a good sign.

“We went to Gloucester and Glamorgan and there were some really good performances from people who are probably going to be playing in the T20,” said Cobb.

“It was a positive few days.

“With the fixtures the way they are, the guys who have been playing four-day cricket might be a bit short (of practice).

“But they have been playing cricket, there is some confidence there, and hopefully they will get plenty of white ball practice in this week and hit the ground running on Friday.”