Steelbacks coach Ripley reflects on 'special moment' at Edgbaston

Steelbacks head coach David RipleySteelbacks head coach David Ripley
Steelbacks head coach David Ripley
There aren’t many things that can take an experienced cricket man like David Ripley by surprise - but even he was left shaking his head at the Steelbacks’ ‘unbelievable’ win over Birmingham Bears on Sunday.

And the head coach admitted it was ‘a very special moment’ as he and his players belted out the club’s traditional Fields Are Green anthem in the changing rooms after the game.

Ripley has been with Northants as player and coach for close to 40 years, but he has never witnessed a match quite like the one at Edgbaston.

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First the Bears recovered from 20 for four to post a huge 191 for five thanks to Adam Hose's stunning century, and then the Steelbacks somehow climbed out of the massive hole they had dug for themselves at 71 for six, to fight back and win by three wickets - with seven balls to spare!

Tom Taylor smashed 50 not out from 27 balls and Graeme White 37 not out from just 12 as the Steelbacks came back from the dead to stun their hosts - the pair hammering six sixes and nine fours between them.

If that wasn’t enough excitement, Northants then had to wait on the matches involving Somerset and Durham to see if they had qualified for the Vitality T20 Blast quarter-finals... and they did as both teams lost!

“It was an unbelievable game,” admitted Ripley.

“If you had said they were going to get 190 having been 20 for four, I would have said that could happen one in 20 times. I would have thought they would be more likely to limp to 120 or 130.

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“And then from where we were at 71 for six, it would have again been one in 20 occasions where a team would win from that position.

“There were certainly a few things you don’t see every day, but if you bat deep as we do then you give yourselves a chance, and that is how we found ourselves getting over the line.

“But it was a remarkable match to sit and watch.”

Northants ended up finishing as runners-up in the Central Group, but for most of the afternoon that looked a very long shot.

“I looked at the other games once or twice early on when we were in the field, but then I didn’t really bother looking through our batting until there was maybe five overs to go,” admitted Ripley.

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“Then I thought I would have a little look, and both games were on a knife-edge.

"We knew we would have got through if Durham or Somerset lost, so we just needed one of those results, with the Somerset one more straightforward as it meant we finished runners-up and that would be that.

“But if they won and Durham lost we were still through, but both of those matches were looking really tight, and waiting on all three matches it was just a very tense afternoon.”

As it turned out, the Steelbacks won and both Somerset and Durham lost, by two wickets and 18 runs respectively, and it was party time in the Northants dressing room.

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The club victory song could be heard loud and clear across the vast Edgbaston ground, and the head coach said: “The atmosphere in the dressing room afterwards was really great.

“It was a shame there was no crowd there to witness the match, but in a tight game like that and with so much on it, it was still intense.

“We always tend to sing the song and sometimes it is a bit of a tired kind of effort.

“But sometimes when you get a win like that there is a lot of passion, it all flows out and it was great to be in there and be part of that. It was a very special moment.”

The Steelbacks will now face Gloucestershire in the quarter-finals at the County Ground in Bristol next Thursday (Oct 1), with Finals day at Edgbaston two days later.