T20 FINALS DAY: Get to know the Steelbacks, with skipper Alex Wakely
At NatWest T20 Blast finals day, there will be a plethora of star names given their share of the spotlight.
Nottinghamshire, Durham and Yorkshire all possess men who have shone on the international stage and who naturally hog the headlines.
But the Northants Steelbacks will again be the team going under the radar.
A group of players who are just as accomplished as many of those their rivals possess, but who perhaps get less attention on the national stage.
Some supporters in attendance at Edgbaston might know much about this skilled bunch of men, whose character and desire is second to none.
So we thought we would get Steelbacks skipper Alex Wakely to shed some light on his team-mates in a lighthearted look at the squad at the County Ground.
Here’s what Wakely had to say about his talented team-mates...
His nickname’s The Bear, for obvious reasons really. He gets a lot of stick for his size, but one of the big things about him is that he’s a seriously talented cricketer.
He’s come in as an overseas player but he’s more like an Englishman than any of the players we’ve had. He fits in, he loves a joke and he loves adidas trainers. He also loves freebies! He’s a relatively quiet guy, but you get the odd one-liners here and there.
He’s an absolute belter, is Rosso. He’s a bit of an old-school cricketer who loves a beer, but he’s also one of our hardest trainers as well.
He’s very much work hard, play hard.
If he has a few drinks, he’ll be in the gym straight away the next day. Behind the stumps he’s got a proper good cricket brain. He’s a typical Londoner - he’s still got a bit of his accent. I wouldn’t want to get in a scrap with him, that’s for sure! Him and Rich are tweedle dee and tweedle dum this year - the two big boys have buddied up together at the top of the order.
He’s brilliant. His nickname’s The Lord. He was King of Leicester when he came to us. He’s another absolute belter.
He’s one of the funniest people you’ll ever come across when he’s drunk. He’s the happiest man alive and he has a smile on his face the whole time. Whenever I think of Cobby, he just makes me smile.
He’s also known as Ledley King because he doesn’t do any training, he doesn’t play any four-day cricket and he just turns up and plays one-day cricket. He’s got a chronic knee problem and his nickname’s Ledley now. He’s got a pretty easy life at the moment.
He’s a proper player. Even though he’s only playing one-day cricket for us, he’s still seen as one of our key players, and that’s testament to how well he’s done. If you were picking a white-ball team in the country, Cobby would be there or therabouts.
He’s like Brian Lara at the moment. He’s nicknamed The Don or Tyrion Lannister, who is a character in Game of Thrones. He’s been incredible this year. He’s a bit old school in that he’s come from his naughty days before where he got in trouble with England Under-19s and his driving ban, but he’s matured.
At the same point, he’s still got that little childish streak to him which makes him popular in the dressing room. He’s a serious player and he’s as good a player as I’ve seen come through Northants since David Sales.
Crooky’s just a complete weirdo, in the nicest possible way. Everyone absolutely adores him, but he’s on a different planet.
Often he’ll put his hand up in a meeting and forget what he was going to say. The best way to describe Crooky is that he ‘lives in the land of Crook’.
He’s one of those players in the dressing room who everyone likes. Usually, when he says something we’re all ready to laugh because usually it’s not serious. He’s a very underrated cricketer in the English game, with the bat and the ball.
When he came back from his year out, when he was in the band, he brought his guitar everywhere with him and he was still toying between music and cricket. He’s very good and very talented. He’s got very good vocals.
Rory has come over and he’s the real tough cricketer on the field, always wants to win, plays the game very hard, but off the field he’s one player I would always go for a beer with.
You can always have a laugh and a smile with him. He’s a big family man and he makes me laugh because he’s got this gorgeous little daughter and he’s this big, tough guy with a shaved head. He’s a big softie at heart.
We’ve been nicknamed The Units, which I think is brilliant and we’ve embraced it. And give Rory credit, if he can run in all day and bowl, he’s obviously a lot fitter than people might think. Rory carries a bit of weight, but he’s a fit guy and he can bat and bowl. He puts in so many match-winning performances for us.
He’s the happiest man alive, he’s always smiling. The language barrier is very entertaining and he’s always talking about either dancing or music or something that’s always entertaining us.
In the time he was here, every single person would have him back. In the dressing room he’s always dancing, he’s always doing weird stuff. He plays the game with a big smile on his face and he’s also really good.
Ducky (Ben Duckett) and Keysy (Rob Keogh) got him to do the ‘dab’ celebration. They keep up to date with the modern trends and they’ve taught Seekkuge a thing or two while he’s here.
They’ve westernised him. Now we’re trying to get him on social media. I’ve enjoyed every single minute with him.
I’ve probably known Whitey and Rob Newton the longest. I played Academy stuff with Whitey.
This year he’s come into his own and, for me, he’s been the best spinner in the country in white-ball cricket.
He loves a beer with us at the right times. He changes next to me in the changing room and he’s got OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and I enjoy that because I’m very tidy as well.
We’ve got a bit of a tradition that when we win a game of Twenty20 cricket, him, me and Rory sit at the back of the changing room and have a tiny little shot. We bought some special crystal glasses and we have a celebratory drink. Whitey instigated that.
He’s also a fake vegetarian. He tries to stay away from meat because he lived off fish and vegetables in Australia. He convinced us he would stick to that, but we gave him about a month and he caved in and ate meat.
We don’t know Glees as well yet because we only really see him on matchdays, but he’s got all the attributes to be one of the best bowlers in the country.
He’s tall, he’s fast and his cricket’s going to get better and better. He’s a smashing guy and he walked into our dressing room as if he’d been there all the time. He has got a cheeky side to him. We talk about playing with a smile on our face and he’s embraced that. He’s an entertainer. He’s going to be one of the finds of the summer across all counties. Every role I’ve asked him to do, he’s done it.
Azhar’s brilliant. His English has got better and better during the past few years and he comes out with lots of funny one-liners.
He won’t say much at all and then he’ll just come out with something completely random that will make us have a smile as we walk out of the dressing room.
He’s also a seriously talented bowler.
One of the best things about Azhar is that we enjoy his batting more than his bowling because I don’t think I’ve ever seen him have a net, but his favourite batsman is Glenn McGrath, and I think that says it all.
Him and Ducky are the young ones who follow all the fashion trends and they love those Huarache Nike trainers that we give them a lot of stick for.
He’s got OCD as well, and if I could choose someone to sit next to, it would be him. He’s meticulous about his kit and he has to have it set out perfectly.
He unfortunately sits next to David Murphy, who is the smelliest, messiest man in the dressing room. Between those two, they often have quite a few clashes.
Newts is my closest friend and I’ve known him since I was 12 years old. He’s very much an old school cricketer and he’s as talented as I’ve played with.
He’s played regional hockey, rugby and football. His nickname is the grubby ewok, you know, the ewoks from Star Wars. He’s small and round.
His nickname is The Old Man, even though he’s the same age as me. He’s a typical dour Yorkshireman but we’ve loved having him around.
He’s lived with Rob Keogh and Ben Duckett so he’s had a bit of an eye-opener.
He’s had to be a father figure to those two and keep them on the straight and narrow.
Sometimes I think he’s gone the other way.
We’re not going to forget Mo and he’s still going to be around with us as a squad. When he came in he was better than we even thought he was going to be.
He’s fitted in really well.
He was looking for a chance to get back into cricket and either we will sign him or someone else will going forward. He’s put himself in the shop window with the performances he’s had.
He’s one of the worst movers in the field I’ve ever seen because he moves like an old man. But his cricket ability is phenomenal.
He also has an obsession with backpacks, which is very weird.
He’s the one who cops the most stick in the dressing room. He’s the clumsiest, he always trips over things.
His kit smells and he’s just a typical keeper.
One of the reasons why we give him so much stick is because he’s one of the most liked players and you don’t usually give people stick if you don’t like them!