Stone the injury doubt as Steelbacks prepare for Birmingham Bears test


Olly Stone is a doubt for the Steelbacks’ Friday night clash with Birmingham Bears (start 6.30pm).

The 21-year-old suffered a hand injury in Northants’ recent County Championship Division Two draw with Surrey.

And head coach David Ripley will now see if the right-arm fast-medium bowler recovers in time to face the Bears in the NatWest T20 Blast game at the County Ground.

“We’ve just got a little injury concern over Ollie Stone, who split the webbing in his hand in our last Championship match against Surrey,” Ripley confirmed.

“Other than him, we’ll pretty much be the same.

“We’ll see how Ollie is, but we’ve got good options there if he isn’t fit.”

Ripley is keen to keep a consistent side in this season’s competition, despite the opening-night defeat at Durham.

He said: “I don’t like to change too much.

“You get used to playing your role and you need confidence in T20 cricket to go out and play with freedom.

“I won’t look to make many changes.”

But if Stone is ruled out, it could pave the way for a first appearance of the T20 season for Mohamed Azharullah.

The 31-year-old was one of the stars of the 2013 tournament-winning side, earning the competition’s top wicket taker accolade with an impressive total of 27, but he struggled to reproduce the heroics last season.

And Ripley said: “Azhar has been a good white ball bowler for us, in 2013 particularly.

“He wasn’t quite able to recreate that form in last year’s competition but he’s still a very skilful bowler and I’m sure he’ll be a strong contender to come in if Ollie doesn’t make it.”