Teenage spinner Heldreich gets the call for Durham trip as opener Levi is left at home

Teenage spinner Freddie Heldreich could be in line for his Northants Steelbacks debut in the Vitality T20 Blast at Durham on Wednesday night (6.30pm).

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 11:30 am
Left-arm wrister spinner Freddie Heldreich could make his Steelbacks debut at Durham
Left-arm wrister spinner Freddie Heldreich could make his Steelbacks debut at Durham

The 19-year-old Academy left-arm wrist spinner has been included in the 14-man squad making the trip to the north east, with head coach David Ripley keen to add some variety and wicket-taking options to his attack.

But there will be no place in the line up at at the Emirates Riverside for experienced opening batsman Richard Levi, who has paid the price for a miserable start to the T20 campaign.

The Steelbacks go into Wednesday's game having lost five of their six matches to date, with the other being rained off at Worcestershire on Friday.

Things couldn't have gone much worse for Ripley and his team, who have struggled in all aspects of the game.

Runs have been hard to come by, with the top order failing in every match, while the team has taken just 22 wickets in total.

And the head coach has decided it is time to give things a bit of a shake-up.

"We have brought Freddie Heldreich into the squad, who is a left-arm wrist-spin bowler," said Ripley.

"I am not sure he will make the final 11, but it is a good place to be considering playing him because of the boundary sizes they have there.

"We are also short of wickets.

"One of the things that stands out with us so far this season is that we have lost our wickets in clusters when batting, and then taken a lack of wickets when bowling.

"That is why Freddie is in the squad."

Heldreich hails from Ipswich, and has been part of the Academy set-up at the County Ground for a couple of years now.

He has previously played T20 cricket for Suffolk in the minor counties, as well as for Northants IIs in recent weeks.

Moving on to the batting, Ripley explained his decison to leave Levi at home, and hinted there may be a move away from the team being top heavy at the top of the order with power hitters.

"Richard Levi isn't in the squad," confirmed Ripley.

"We are going to give him a game or two off and see if someone else can step up and do the job that historically he has done for us, but he has been short of runs this season.

"Ricardo Vasconcelos, Ben Curran and Charlie Thurston are all batting options that we have in the squad, and we have the chance to shuffle the order a little bit if we need to do that.

"We have options, we have a 14-man squad, and we will have a look at the field when we get there and see which way we go."

Levi is not the only batter to have struggled for runs, with skipper Adam Rossington also desperately short along with overseas signing Wayne Parnell.

The injury to Josh Cobb, who was in form, has been a big blow, as was the fact Mohammad Nabi had to miss the first four games as he was in quarantine, and has then been thrown straight into the action after spending 10 days stuck in a London hotel room.

A regular occurrence both this season and in the second half of last season's competition has been all-too-regular batting collapses, and that has been a huge disappointment for Ripley.

"When we won this trophy in 2016, the front three were immaculate for us," said the head coach.

"I guess time does move on and you could say we have been set in our ways, but I was very excited about that first three (Levi, Rossington, Ricardo Vasconcelos) when we started the competition.

"I still believe they have a lot to offer, but it hasn't quite worked out at the top of the order.

"Cobby was the one persion who was in a bit of form and he has picked up his injury, and the other lads have been disappointed with how they have gone.

"But we have been pretty much down in all departments, and the only way is up."

Northants Steelbacks squad v Durham: Rossington, Buck, Curran, Glover, Heldreich, Keogh, Nabi, Parnell, Sanderson, Taylor, Thurston, Vasconcelos, G White, Zaib