Skipper Wakely confident Steelbacks can beat bogey team Notts
Northants Steelbacks can book their place in the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals with victory at the County Ground on Friday night (start 6.30pm), but to do so they will have to overcome the county who have been their bogey team over the past decade.
The County have not beaten Nottinghamshire, Friday’s opponents at Wantage Road, in any competition since 2006 - a run of 14 completed matches.
The closest Northants have come has been in the shortest format with two ties in 2010.
It hasn’t happened recently for Northants against Notts, and their captain Alex Wakely cannot pin down why.
“I don’t think we’ve done ourselves justice against Notts over the last few seasons - we don’t seem to turn up against them for some reason,” said Wakely.
“But I don’t think we need to change anything from the way we’ve been playing - it’s been a great, entertaining brand so far.”
The Steelbacks have swept almost all before them so far in the T20 competition, with just one defeat from nine matches and six victories, the latest of those a very impressive eight-wicket triumph at Birmingham Bears last Friday.
“I still think we’ve got a little bit more to give - we haven’t quite played the perfect game yet,” said the County skipper.
“You could say the Warwickshire game was up there but I want us to keep getting better and better.
“One of the things we’ve been very good at over the past few seasons is picking players that will fit into the roles within the team - this year we’ve picked Moin Ashraf to bowl at the death, and we’ve seen him bowl his yorkers spot on, and we’ve picked Rich Gleeson to hit a length and take wickets at the top and again he’s done that perfectly.
“It’s not luck, those guys are very talented and we’ve been able to give them simple messages to deliver.”
Despite boasting the best record in the competition this season, Wakely still likes to consider his side as underdogs.
“I love that,” he said. “We get very little national media coverage - a lot of people have mentioned about how we’re never picked for television - but that’s not a bad thing.
“We’re going nicely under the radar but after that performance at Birmingham a few sides may have gone, ‘hang on, this side are perhaps here to stay’.
“Friday can’t come fast enough for us. We’re top of the table and up against a very very good team in Notts - but the way we’re playing at the moment we can turn anybody over.”
Steelbacks are boosted for Friday’s game by the return of Seekugge Prasanna following his stint with the Sri Lanka squad in their international series with Engand, but there is still no return from injury for Rory Kleinveldt.
Steelbacks squad: Levi, Rossington, Cobb, Duckett, Crook, Wakely, Keogh, White, Gleeson, Azharullah, Ashraf, Sanderson, Newton, Prasanna.
Notts Outlaws squad: Christian, Ball, Fletcher, Gurney, Hutton, Lumb, Mullaney, Patel, Read, Smith, Tahir, Taylor, Wessels, Wood.