Still all to play for in the T20 Blast as Steelbacks head to Wales for Glamorgan test

Alex Wakely steered Northants to a four-wicket win over Glamorgan last ThursdayAlex Wakely steered Northants to a four-wicket win over Glamorgan last Thursday
Alex Wakely steered Northants to a four-wicket win over Glamorgan last Thursday
David Ripley believes the Vitality T20 Blast Central Group is still wide open going into the final four rounds of matches, and that any of the six teams could progress to the quarter-finals.

The Steelbacks stuttered to their first defeat of the campaign on Friday afternoon, a result that saw their conquerors, Gloucestershire, move above Northants to go top of the pile on run-rate.

Ripley's men are still in good shape as they sit in second place on nine points, a tally that only Notts Outlaws can better in the whole country, and they will be looking to get back on the winning trail when they travel to Cardiff to take on Glamorgan on Sunday (2pm start).

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The Welsh side are second bottom of the group on just three points, the same total as rock-bottom Worcestershire Rapids, but Ripley insists both of those teams can still reach the last eight.

The top two of each of the three divisions qualifies for the knockout stages, as well as the two best third-placed teams, and that means that every game in the Central Group still has something riding on it for every team.

"No-one is out of it in our group," said Ripley.

"Worcestershire will have to have a very strong second half to the campaign, but they are capable of that because they have been in the final the past two years.

"Glamorgan are sitting there on three points, but if they beat us and get on a bit of a roll it is going to be open for everybody, so that is the beauty of possibly three teams qualifying for the quarter-finals."

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Glamorgan have won just once this season, in their opening match against Gloucestershire, but they also pushed the Steelbacks to the wire at Edgbaston only last week.

Northants got over the line with four wickets and four balls to spare in a thrilling match, and Ripley is anticipating another close encounter at the Swalec Stadium.

"We are expecting another tough game," said the Steelbacks head coach. "It was really tight when we played them last week, so I am expecting much the same.

"But we just have to raise our level of performance from what we produced on Friday, and I think if we play well we will win most of our games."

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The Steelbacks will still be without the four players who are self-isolating following last week's positive test for Covid-19 on one member of the squad, who has not been involved in the T20 group this season.

The other three who had come into close contact with the infected player have been involved though, and despite their tests came back neagative they are still unavailable, with both Brandon Glover and Saif Zaib being missed in the defeat to Gloucestershire.

Northants are likely to name an unchanged squad for the trip to Cardiff.

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