Head coach Sadler demanding big improvement from underperforming Steelbacks

John Sadler is desperate to see the Steelbacks rediscover their white ball mojo.

By Jeremy Casey
Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 9:58 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 10:00 am
The Steelbacks endured poor campaigns in both the Vitality T20 Blast and the Royal London One Day Cup in 2021 (Picture: Peter Short)
The Steelbacks endured poor campaigns in both the Vitality T20 Blast and the Royal London One Day Cup in 2021 (Picture: Peter Short)

The Northamptonshire head coach admits that the form in both the Vitality T20 Blast and Royal London One Day Cup in 2021 were simply not good enough.

The Steelbacks finished rock bottom in the North Group in the Blast, and then finished second from bottom in their section in the 50-over competition.

For a club that made no secret is was concentrating and investing in the shorter forms of the game, it was a poor showing.

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There were some extenuating circumstances.

Key men Josh Cobb and Adam Rossington missed large chunks of the T20 through injury, with both then missing for the whole of the One Day Cup as they were playing in The Hundred - although that was something all counties had to deal with.

Signature overseas signing Mohammad Nabi also missed the first three T20 games as he was forced to undergo Covid quarantine after a late arrival to the UK.

In his absence, the Steelbacks lost the trio of matches, all of them at the County Ground, and it was to prove too big a mountain to climb to qualify from there.

But despite those setbacks, the team’s performances were, with the odd exception, simply nowhere near good enough.

Northants won just six of the 20 white ball matches they completed all season, and Sadler, who this month took over the head coach reins from David Ripley, is setting his sights on making sure that record improves next summer.

And he has made it clear that sharpening up the squad’s white ball skills, whether it be with bat or ball, is going to be a big part of the winter coaching programme, which starts later this month when the players return.

Asked if he wants to see a lot more from the Steelbacks’ performances, Sadler said: “Without a doubt.

“We have got the players that shouldn’t be down at the bottom in both competitions as we were.

“It will be a focus for the winter, a bit of white ball stuff.

“The red ball, with the news of us being in division one, that is crucial for us as well, but certainly the winter plans, and the kind of skills needed to compete in white ball cricket, will be a focus point.

“Then as the season draws closer we will then switch that to red ball, but the white ball area is something we do need to focus on a little bit in the short term.”

With Ripley on duty at The Hundred with London Spirit, Sadler was in charge for the disappointing One Day Cup performances in the summer so saw close up what needs changing.

And he feels a new voice at the top and a reshaped coaching team, with two-time T20 winner Ripley having stepped down, could have a positive effect.

“We have not quite fired for various reasons,” said the 39-year-old.

“Hopefully with the changes, some fresh energy and a slightly different approach might give people a new lease of life to go and play some exciting cricket in the white ball competitions.

“We certainly have the skills, we just need to put them all together.

“So in the winter we will be looking at the white ball stuff, because it is the ideal time to upskill and learn new skills, new deliveries or whatever it may be, without that threat of competition looming.

“It is very hard mid-season to try and change stuff and adapt stuff and learn new skills, because you obviously have competitions regularly throughout the season.

“So this time of year, in November and December and then particularly in January and February is a brilliant time to really dumb things down, get away from the limelight and some work behind the scenes to upskill.

“That will be the focus point for the next few months.

“Then around February or March time we will make that switch to the red ball stuff as well and make sure we get the balance right for both.

“I am just looking forward to getting going.”