Sadler confident Steelbacks can capitalise on early home run in the Blast

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John Sadler is confident the Steelbacks can make the most of early home advantage to get their Vitality T20 Blast campaign off to a flyer in 2023.

The fixtures for the new domestic season were announced on Wednesday, and the initial focus fell on the LV= Insurance County Championship which dominates the opening two months of the campaign.

But come the end of May the attention will turn to the white ball and the Blast, and the fixtures have given the Steelbacks a great opportunity to get their North Group bid off to a flyer.

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Four of their first five games will be played at the County Ground, with a trip to Derbyshire on May 29 the sandwich inbetween four Wantage Road home dates in the space of just nine days.

Australian batter Chris Lynn will once again be a key man for the Steelbacks in the Vitality Blast in 2023Australian batter Chris Lynn will once again be a key man for the Steelbacks in the Vitality Blast in 2023
Australian batter Chris Lynn will once again be a key man for the Steelbacks in the Vitality Blast in 2023

The Steelbacks host Worcestershire on May 24, Durham on May 26, Birmingham Bears on May 31 and Leicestershire on June 2 - the Durham and Leicestershire matches under the Friday night lights.

It's a quickfire opening home schedule that won't have overly pleased the club's marketing and commercial department, but it does offer Josh Cobb and his team the chance to really hit the ground running.

Wantage Road was certainly something of a fortress last season, with a Chris Lynn-inspired Steelbacks winning their opening five home matches, before late slip-ups against the Bears and Yorkshire Vikings that ultimately cost them qualification for the quarter-finals.

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Sadler will be looking for his team to replicate their early form in those first five wins, and believes his team can once again make the County Ground a T20 fortress.

"Last year we played some incredible cricket at the County Ground, and we had some amazing support," said the head coach.

"Teams coming to us know they are in for a real tough night, and we played some outstanding stuff, we really did.

"So we have got to do that again, and what happened last year counts for nothing really.

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"I think momentum in that format is really important and we got some of that last year, but then we had a bit of misfortune with a washed out game against Worcester that I believe we would have won.

"After that we had a little break, and when you have a break you always have to come back and it is almost starting again, and you have to get that momentum back again.

"Unfortunately, we didn't do that, and we got the wrong kind of momentum in those last four games, and all of a sudden it gets hard to get going again.

"It is an amazing thing when you get that momentum and confidence, so we have got to try and get that going early in that competition, particularly as the games come so thick and fast."

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After their early cluster of home games, the Steelbacks will have three away games on the spin (Worcestershire on June 4, Durham on June 6, Bears on June 9) before another quickfire home double header sees them host Lancashire on Friday, June 16 and then Notts Outlaws on Sunday, June 18.

Northants have just one home game in their final four fixtures, against Derbyshire on June 21, as they travel to Yorkshire Vikings (June 20) and Leicestershire (June 23) before wrapping up the group campaign against Lancashire at Old Trafford on Sunday, July 2.

The top four finishers in the nine-team group will qualify for the quarter-finals.