Clark and Sowter star for Durham Jets as Steelbacks suffer a Blast battering

Ricardo Vasconcelos made 52 for the Steelbacks (Picture: Peter Short)Ricardo Vasconcelos made 52 for the Steelbacks (Picture: Peter Short)
Ricardo Vasconcelos made 52 for the Steelbacks (Picture: Peter Short)
Northants Steelbacks suffered a Friday night horror show as they suffered a Vitality Blast humiliation at the hands of Durham at the County Ground.

Skipper David Willey’s 250th T20 career appearance turned into a nightmare as his side were thrashed by 10 wickets with more than six overs to spare, to fall to their second successive defeat.

The night started badly with Chris Lynn and David Willey being dismissed inside the first 13 balls to leave the home side two for two, and in truth it never really got any better.

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The Steelbacks were indebted to a classy 52 from Ricardo Vasconcelos as they posted what looked a well below par 137 all out – with the team once again suffering an alarming batting collapse.

This time they lost five wickets for 17 runs in less than five overs to slide from 98 for three to 115 for eight, and just as it was against Worcestershire on Wednesday night, it was leg-spin that proved the team’s Achilles heel.

This time it was Nathan Sowter who enjoyed himself in the Wantage Road sunshine, snaring five for 15 from his four overs – and it would have been six for 11 but for a drop off the final delivery of his spell, the ball dropping over the boundary for four.

Durham could have taken their time to get the runs, but they came out all guns blazing and were 77 without loss at the end of the six-over powerplay, before coasting to a huge and deserved victory.

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Graham Clark hammered the County bowlers to all corners as he thrashed a brilliant 102 not out, reaching the three figures with a straight drive for four to win the match.

Clark’s ton came off just 49 balls and he thrashed 13 fours and four sixes, with Alex Lees unbeaten on 37 at the other end.

This was a bad, and worrying night for John Sadler and his players, especially if you consider this was a Durham side missing six first team regulars.

Willey won the toss, but his decision to bat looked a debatable one as the County were two for two in the third over with himself and dangermen Lynn back in the pavilion.

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Bas de Leede did the damage, getting one to nip back to bowl Lynn for a duck off the third ball of the match, and then having Willey caught behind with the first ball of the third.

Josh Cobb came in and hit three fours in his first five balls, but after he and Vasconcelos had turned things around slightly, another wicket went to the final ball of the powerplay.

Cobb was furious with himself too, as he went for 17, hitting a Sowter full toss straight back to the bowler for a simple caught and bowled and the Steelbacks were a precarious 36 for three after the opening six.

Saif Zaib and Vasconcelos set about building a defendable total, and they did it well.

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Vasconcelos, who had been dropped in the sixth over by Luke Doneathy, had played some lovely shots, and then opened up as he dispatched a free-hit off his old pal Brandon Glover for six over square leg.

It was the first maxium of the innings in the 11th over.

He repeated the trick in the next, before the scoop shots came out from both players, with Vasconcelos bringing up his 50 off 39 balls, taking a single after a difficult chance was put down at gully.

The pair had taken the score 96 for three after 13 overs when Vasconcelos was caught behind off Sowter for an excellent 52 from 41 balls, and it wasn't long before Zaib followed him, sending a Ben Raine delivery straight to deep square leg to go for 28 off 27 balls.

With five overs to go, the Steelbacks had serious work to do at 107 for five, instead they capitulated - losing their next three wickets for just eight runs.

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In all, they had lost five wickets for 17 runs in fewer than five overs, and it was leg-spinner Sowter who created the chaos, dismissing Tom Taylor, Rob Keigh and AJ Tye in quick succession.

It was pretty depressing stuff, with the Steelbacks only limping their way to 137 all out off the final ball thanks to a couple of late hits from Graeme White.

Northants’ bowlers needed to make inroads early on to give their side a chance, instead Durham raced to 42 without loss off just 18 balls!!

A tight first over from Willey was followed by Cobb being smacked for 24 by Graham Clark, and the captain then seeing his second over go for 15.

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Durham were not going to hang about and they continued to send the Steelbacks bowlers to all corners.

There was some fortune for Clark as a few miscued hits landed safe, but he middled plenty of others and all the bowlers suffered.

Much of the big crowd that had turned up to enjoy the cricket had left long before the Steelbacks were put out of their misery in the 14th over.

This was a night to forget, and the Steelbacks have to lift themselves for their next game, a trip to Derbyshire on Monday.

Match facts

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Result: Steelbacks 137 all out (Vasconcelos 52, Zaib 28, Sowter 5-15) lost to Durham 141-0 (Clark 102no) by 10 wickets


Steelbacks: Lynn, Vasconcelos, Willey, Cobb, Zaib, McManus, Taylor, Keogh, Sales, G White, Tye

Durham: Lees, Jones, Clark, O Robinson, Turner, de Leede, Doneathy, Travaskis, Raine, Sowter, Glover