Coach Ripley delighted as Steelbacks hold nerve to keep Lord’s dream alive

HAPPY MAN - Northants Steelbacks coach David Ripley

HAPPY MAN - Northants Steelbacks coach David Ripley

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Northants Steelbacks coach David Ripley was delighted to see his players keep their nerve and seal a crucial 23-run win at Worcestershire Rapids on Wednesday.

The victory keeps the County very much in the hunt for a place in the last eight of the Royal London Cup, with Northants moving into the top three in the North Group.

The top four qualify for the last eight, and a victory over Derbyshire in the Steelbacks’ final group game at the County Ground on Sunday could be enough to see them through and keep alive their hopes of reaching a Lord’s final.

Defeat at New Road would have meant the County’s hopes of qualifying would have been over, and Ripley was very happy to see his team come through a testing day.

The Steelbacks were asked to bat and recovered from 58 for three to post an imposing 319 for seven in their 50 overs, with Adam Rossington making 87 from 92 balls, man of the moment Ben Duckett 86 from 75, Steven Crook 52 not out from 52 and Rory Kleinveldt 37 from 27,

Worcester looked to be in cruise control as they eased to 193 for one with opener Tom Kohler-Cadmore on his way to an excellent 119, but once Richard Gleeson removed Tom Fell for 54 things started to unravel.

The key spell saw Graeme White claim three quick wickets, including that of Kohler-Cadmore, and Gleeson cleaned up the tail as Worcester were bowled out for 296.

“We played well,” said Ripley. “I thought it was a good 50-over game.

“It ebbed and flowed with teams on top at different periods, and obviously it got pretty tight towards the end.

“We haven’t had many tight games this year compared to last year when we had a lot of last-over finishes.

“This was always going to be close and it’s great to come out on top.”

Ripley also had some words of praise for in-form Ben Duckett, who it seems can do no wrong at the moment.

“He has just played cricket shots really, and if he does try something a little bit out of the ordinary, it’s coming off,” said the Northants head coach.

“He’s full of confidence and he has had a lot of very positive feedback (from England) and the impression he made with them.”

Ripley and Northants now turn their attention to Friday night’s NatWest T20 Blast showdown with Yorkshire Vikings at the County Ground (start 6.30pm).

The Steelbacks know a win will guarantee them a home quarter-final.