Sadler left disappointed as Steelbacks face One Day Cup KO

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John Sadler was left disappointed by the Steelbacks' final over defeat to Worcestershire at the County Ground on Wednesday - a result that all but eliminates the team the Royal London One Day Cup.

But he insists it was the earlier defeats to Kent and, in particular, Hampshire where Northants really threw things away.

The County were beaten by six wickets with four balls to spare on DLS at Wantage Road, with Worcestershire ending a run of five straight defeats in the competition.

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The loss means the Steelbacks will, barring a highly unlikely set of results in the final rounds of fixtures, once again fail to reach the knockout stage of the List A competition.

Northants Steelbacks head coach John SadlerNorthants Steelbacks head coach John Sadler
Northants Steelbacks head coach John Sadler

Will Young hit 104 not out, Ricardo Vasconcelos 70 and Lewis McManus 50 as Northants made 248 for four in 39 overs, with their innings twice being interrupted by rain delays, and the visitors reached their adjusted target of 253 to win in the final over.

Azhar Ali hit a brilliant 130 to steer Worcestershire home, with the Steelbacks bowlers struggling to contain their visitors.

“I thought we played really well first half, I thought we batted beautifully and we assessed conditions," said Sadler.

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"We spoke about it after the Kent game that we didn't assess conditions and didn't give ourselves a chance.

"In this game we did. Youngy was top class, Vasco played beautifully and then Lewis upped the rate a little bit in a 100 partnership.

"So, everything we've spoken about we did first half.

"I thought we were probably a little bit above par considering we had to restart a couple of times. But we didn’t quite get over the line second half."

Particularly frustrating for Northants is they have been minimally affected by call-ups to The Hundred while others have lost numerous players.

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Skipper Josh Cobb has been the only absentee, aside from Saif Zaib also missing one match, and Sadler admits his team have failed to play to their potential.

“It’s been disappointing in this comp that we’ve not done it more consistently because we're good enough to," said the head coach.

"We drove home from the Kent game devastated with how we played, and same with the Isle of Wight because we threw that game away against Hampshire.

"But against Worcestershire we got beaten in the last over and it's not too bitter a pill to swallow but the other two games, they’re the ones that really cost us."

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Looking back on the Worcestershire loss, Sadler heaped praise on the innings of visiting opener Ali.

“Azhar is world class, he showed that next level," said the County coach. "Youngy as well, he’s that next level up.

"They hit the ball cleaner, they don't just get nice 20s 30s 40s, 50s and 60s. They get 130 and win the game.

"The last third of his innings when he decided to really put his foot down a little bit, then he took the game away from us."

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Sadler once again rang the changes for this game, resting Rob Keogh and Nathan Buck, and leaving out Tom Taylor who was available after missing three matches for the birth of his baby son.

It is something he has done with his bowlers throughout the competition, and says he takes full responsibility for that as he has one eye on keeping his seamers fresh for the club's four remaining LV= Insurance County Championship matches in September.

Ben Sanderson was the standout bowler against Worcester, going for just 25 in his eight overs, but support was lacking from the other end, and Sadler accepts chopping and changing the line-up may have had an effect on that.

“Sando is high class, he’s our best performer, he has been for a long time, that’s why he’s so valuable for us," said Sadler.

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"But he didn't quite get the support (from the other bowlers).

"It can happen. We've rotated in this comp, particularly those bowlers who played a lot of cricket first half of the season and sometimes it can be a little bit hard to keep that rhythm when you stop, start.

"So, I take responsibility.

"All these lads want to play every game, but I have to look at the bigger picture and rest them when it’s right.

"We've got an incredibly important month coming up in September, which certainly now is the priority as it always was.

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"But it can be hard sometimes getting that rhythm if you play a game and miss a game, but that’s what I’m here for.

"I have to look at the bigger picture."

The Steelbacks are back in One Day Cup action on Friday (Aug 19) when they travel to Blackpool Cricket Club to take on Lancashire, before wrapping up their Group B campaign at home to Derbyshire on Tuesday (Aug 23).