Steelbacks are Edgbaston bound as Durham are flogged

Northamptonshire booked their place at the Friends Life t20 finals day for only the second time as they beat Durham by 36 runs at the County Ground.

A strong showing with the bat proved decisive as the hosts, led by Cameron White who thrashed 58 from 32 deliveries, produced a polished performance.

Northants Steelbacks v Durham Dynamos. County Ground, Wantage Road, Northampton.

Northants Steelbacks v Durham Dynamos. County Ground, Wantage Road, Northampton.

Ben Stokes did his best in the chase to overturn what was an almost hopeless situation when he came in - way too late as it transpired - but Superman he isn’t and there was never any danger that he was going to reel off a miracle.

In front of in excess of 5,000 keen punters and having won the toss and elected to have first use of fresh surface, the Steelbacks made steady progress in the initial stages.

David Willey, promoted to open, joined Kyle Coetzer and the pair made efficient use of the six-over powerplay which ended with the scoreboard showing 40-0.

It wasn’t spectacular by any means, a decent spell from Graham Onions saw to that, but enough impetus was created for the required acceleration.

That came primarily from Willey who merrily flailed his way to a 34-ball 46 before an intended sweep saw him bowled by Gareth Breese.

Kyle Coetzer fell shortly after the 100 was reached when a smart piece of work from Phil Mustard caught him short of his ground and that set the stage almost perfectly for Cameron White.

The Australian duly obliged with a trio of leg-side sixes in one Breese over - the 16th - which had the effect of advancing the score from a potentially average level to one with much more substance.

White motored to his 50 from only 27 balls and with Alex Wakely lending good support, 79 came from the last six overs as the hosts posted a challenging 183-4.

The reply didn’t start too promisingly as both Mustard and Mark Stoneman struggled to get going and it was no surprise when the latter lost his middle stump to Steven Crook.

Already behind the rate, the visitors just couldn’t find the boundary with any regularity and at the halfway point a further 131 were needed.

The longer Stokes stayed on the sidelines the less chance Durham had and his arrival in the 12th over when Mustard departed for 46 offered a flicker of hope but although he landed a handful of meaty blows in a rapid half century, displaying exactly why he should be playing at a higher level, it was to no avail as they fell comfortably short.

So Edgbaston a week on Saturday it is. The County won’t start as favourites, there are sides with a better pedigree in the shortest version of the game, but if they can replicate this kind of form then it might well be time to dust out the trophy cabinet.