The Steelbacks have done their Vikings homework

Steven Crook in action during the Steelbacks' three-wicket victory at Headingley last month
Steven Crook in action during the Steelbacks' three-wicket victory at Headingley last month
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David Ripley says that his Steelbacks side will be properly prepared for the visit of Yorkshire Vikings to the County Ground on Friday evening (start 6.30pm).

The northerners, who were beaten by the defending champions in the first round of the Natwest t20 Blast, will provide a stern test having won their past two outings.

The latest of those was a five-wicket defeat of Lancashire which was in stark contrast to the Steelbacks’ last game which ended in a defeat by an identical margin.

But Twenty20 cricket often makes a mockery of the formbook and Ripley wants that to be proved again under the Wantage Road lights.

He said: “One of the things we looked at a couple of years ago was our one-day cricket and how we went about it.

“We’ve done a lot more planning and homework on the opposition, and a format where the games are spread out certainly lends itself to that.

“We know where their batters will try to hit the ball and how we plan to counter that.”

One change from the campaign so far will be the return of David Willey the bowler.

The all-rounder has been in excellent form at the top of the order with the bat and would be guaranteed a place regardless, but his other suit gives the side a new dimension and will lead to a slight reshuffle of the line-up.

Ripley said: “The decision will need to be made about whether we bring in another batter or bring back David Murphy as the wicketkeeper.

“I don’t think that we need seven bowlers as it’s a luxury that can confuse things.

“We’ve tended to use a bit of a template with players knowing their roles, and if you have too many bowlers that can be ruined.

“I think we’ll probably lean towards an extra batter knowing we’ve got enough bowling options.”

As for the visitors, with the international season under way, they will be missing Joe Root, Gary Ballance and Liam Plunkett, who are on duty in the first Test at Lord’s.

Steelbacks from: Coetzer, Willey, Levi, Sales, Crook, Spriegel, Butler, Middlebrook, Spriegel, Azharullah, White, Murphy, Newton, Chambers.

Vikings from: Bairstow, Bresnan, Brooks, Finch, Gale (capt), Hodd, Leaning, Lees, Lyth, Patterson, Pyrah, Rafiq, Rashid, Robinson