Skipper Wakely urging Steelbacks to play with a smile against Worcestershire

Alex Wakely wants his team to enjoy the clash with Worcestershire at the County Ground (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Alex Wakely wants his team to enjoy the clash with Worcestershire at the County Ground (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

For so many seasons, the Steelbacks have been the great entertainers in the T20 tournament.

‘The Units’ as they were dubbed in previous seasons, pulled together and produced some real fireworks.

Northants won the competition in 2013 and 2016, as well as reaching the final in 2015.

But they have endured a tough start to this season’s Vitality Blast, losing their first five games before failing to defend their record score of 231 for five at Edgbaston last Friday.

They did at least claim a point from that game as Nathan Buck held his nerve in the final over to secure a tie.

The Steelbacks now host Worcestershire Rapids this evening (start time 6.30pm) with skipper Alex Wakely desperate for his team to maintain their batting momentum while tightening up a bowling attack that has shipped more than 200 runs four times in six T20 matches this season.

And Wakely’s message to his players is to start enjoying their cricket again, as they seemed to do when blasting the ball all over Edgbaston last week.

“This year, the Vitality Blast is stronger than ever,” said Wakely, whose side sit bottom of the North Group table.

“It’s the most competitive year I’ve come across and any side can beat another on their day.

“We’ll see sides putting in late surges in this competition because once you win one game, you can get momentum because the games come so thick and fast.

“We’re concentrating on us and we need to target winning every game to try to go through in this group.

“I want us to go out with confidence and one of the big things for me is that we haven’t been playing with a smile.

“When we’ve done well at Northants, we’ve gone out there with a smile and enjoyed doing what we’re doing.

“We’ve enjoyed entertaining the crowd and we didn’t do that during the first few games.

“There’s been a lot of soul-searching as a management group and I feel like we’re in a much better place now.”