VIEW FROM THE BLUES: It might be a case of win or bust already for Steelbacks

EXCELLENT CENTURY - Rob Newton's innings was the highlight of the defeat to Glamorgan
EXCELLENT CENTURY - Rob Newton's innings was the highlight of the defeat to Glamorgan

So after the opening two Twenty20 defeats, a win tonight at a hot and humid Wantage Road is critical.

If we don’t win, then I think it’s probably all over.

I don’t think you can compete at this level with such a small squad, and to me Northants look short of a plan and bespoke bowling.

When we won in 2013 it was all about partnerships and accelerating the scoring rate, but that tactic has appeared absent in the first two games.

On the pitch this week and the superstition in club cricket goes that if you are behind in the game you turn left for wickets or right for runs from the pavilion (it might be the other way around but that’s how I remember it) and hope for the best.

For Northants the home matches are very much about runs and the away matches all about the chance for wickets as the bowlers get to enjoy more competitive pitches away from the home concrete runways.

This week’s trip to Wales promised the bowlers some relief with a grassier and bouncier strip as Willey led the team for the first time in the championship, Wakely being rested.

Alas, there would be no victory for Willey to celebrate his second England call-up.

You can already feel evolution taking place in the first-class game, as all-year Twenty20 peps up Championship and Test Match run-rates.

The relative good ball on a length is now getting slammed by impatient, aggressive batsmen, and Glamorgan were proof of that in this match as Willey put the home team in.

After morning rain they didn’t mess around catching up time and recovered from 94 for four in seaming conditions.

Glamorgan risked being skittled in the pursuit of quick runs, mirroring the NZ Test series, but, as ever, a relative unknown took his chance with yet another player to get a career-high score against Northants.

This now a running joke at Wantage Road with the supporters.

This time, South African-born Craig Meschede’s 107 guided Glamorgan to that rapid 371 all out off just 71.3 overs, with good support from Chris Cooke with 73 that allowed Ruaidhri Smith to slog the disappointing fourth batting point with 49 not out.

There was yet another irritatingly high tally of 39 extras that added to the bowling woe.

It was good to see Maurice Chambers get a go, but he struggled and went around the park for 88 from his 14 overs.

Northants’ reply also had rain interruptions to deal with as Willey became the first Northants captain I can recall to use a number 11 nightwatchman in Mohamed Azharullah to open the batting.

But it made no difference on day two as Northants, coming off prospering on those home pitches that had contributed nine out of their 10 first class innings this season, were soon in trouble as the ball swung under the cloud and murk.

Northants lost five wickets for five runs at one stage.

Rain delayed start on day three as fans’ favorite Adam Rossington and new boy Josh Cobb dug in with a half-century each.

Cobb has impressed me in the way he slots into the side, and although we have had to find a place for him as the pseudo spinner, he has been an integral part of the run machine is nearing that debut ton.

But after Rossington was unluckily run out that was it, and Northants were all out for 157 meaning they were asked to follow on.

This was comfortably Northants’ lowest score since that black day at Durham last year.

It was better second time around with Rob Newton dominating that second innings with an excellent hundred full of those signature flashing square cuts and pulls, but a silly dismissal cost the partnership.

Run outs should never really happen unless it’s a fourth-innings run chase, but Rob Keogh was run out for 42 when another ton beckoned.

We know Rossington can play at a higher level, and he enjoyed his second half-century of the match to at least avoid the innings defeat.

It would have been nice if Newton finally turned his seventh hundred into a ‘biggy’ to earn the draw, but it was not to be and so we suffered the first championship defeat of the season.

I’m sure Rob will add that to his game, but playing the way he does it exposes him to more types of dismissals, the same way Allan Lamb never went on to doubles.

To be honest, I was expecting this defeat away from the comfort blanket of those flat pitches at Wantage Road, and just hope the lads can win tonight to keep the season going.