Steelbacks skipper Wakely: “I’ve never been in a position where it’s been this tough”

STRUGGLING - Northants Steelbacks skipper Alex Wakely
STRUGGLING - Northants Steelbacks skipper Alex Wakely

Skipper Alex Wakely skippered his Northants Steelbacks side to a seventh defeat in eight Vitality Blast matches at Durham on Thursday night, and admitted he has never known things to be so tough in his cricketing career.

The County were bowled out for just 95 to lost by 75 runs to the high-flying Jets, and they stay rock bottom of the North group with a single point to their name out of a possible 16.

It is a grim situation for a team that won this competition in 2013 and 2016, and reached the final in 2015, but they have been so far off the pace this season it has been somewhat embarrassing.

And Wakely, the captain for those Edgbaston final successes, admits he has never known it so bad.

Speaking to BBC Radio Northampton following the defeat at Durham, Wakely said: “It’s the same story and a hard pill to swallow.

“We just can’t get anything going. We’re trying different stuff with the resources that we’ve got available and nothing seems to be working. It’s a tough place to be at the minute.

“I’ve never been in a position where it’s been this tough. I’ve never lost as many games in a row in any form of cricket, captain or non-captain.

“It’s testing me, it’s testing the coaching staff and it’s testing the players.

“The only thing I can say is that everyone in the dressing room is trying to win.

“Everyone is going to give us some stick and that’s fair enough, but we’re trying to do everything we can to turn it around, but it’s just not working.”

Things looked good early on at Chester-le-Street as the Steelbacks bowlers restricted the home side to just 40 from the opening six-over powerplay, but an unbeaten 50 from veteran Paul Collingwood held things together as they posted 170 for four in their 20 overs.

The Steelbacks were soon 18 for three in reply with Richard Levi, Ben Duckett and Josh Cobb all feeling cheaply, and they never recovered as South African Imran Tahir spun his way to four for 16 in his four overs, and Northants were bowled out for 95 with three overs remaining.

“We did bowl a bit better,” said Wakely. “We had some good plans in place and the bowlers stuck to it.

“There were a few too many twos for my liking. They did have home advantage and they knocked the ball in the gaps, but I felt like it was a bit better in the field.

“We had 22 extras in the game and if you have that then you’re not going to win too many games of Twenty20 cricket. It was still 20, 30 runs too many and we were chasing the game from there.

“We didn’t have one partnership and lost wickets at crucial moments. It’s the story of our season in all forms of cricket.

“We keep losing wickets at the wrong time.”