'We still believe' - Sanderson insists Steelbacks can still qualify after win against Outlaws

Ricardo Vasconcelos delivered with the batRicardo Vasconcelos delivered with the bat
Ricardo Vasconcelos delivered with the bat
"We still believe we can qualify."

That was the message from Ben Sanderson after he helped to steer the Northamptonshire Steelbacks to a 78-run win against Nottinghamshire Outlaws on Sunday.

Sanderson took three for 29 as the Outlaws were bowled out for just 99 in their reply.

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Earlier, the Steelbacks had racked up 177 for five, with Ricardo Vasconcelos top scoring with 51 from just 44 balls.

The win leaves Northants second bottom of the Vitality T20 Blast North Group, four points adrift of every side in the top four with four matches to play.

And Sanderson said: “We still believe we can qualify. Definitely.

"We’ve yet to have a game really where one of our big name players has come off and won us a game.

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"Lynny (Chris Lynn) got 100 against Leicester, but other than that, it's been little bit parts.

"It was a team performance today. If we have a big performance from one of the big lads, we’re flying aren’t we?

"We just need to keep playing like we did today and hope for the best.”

On the performance against the Outlaws, Sanderson said: “We saw from the first innings that it was swinging around a bit.

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"So, me and David Willey were looking at that and it's quite exciting to have a go ourselves on it. It did do a bit. It was very humid today, so that will help the ball swing round corners.

“The batters communicated back that 170 was about par because it was doing so much with that new ball. So, getting up to 170 and the way we did it - it was probably the first time we've actually given ourselves a chance to go at the back end.

"AJ Tye’s little cameo at the end made the difference.

"That's our blueprint going forward, and we need to put pressure on the teams above us now and try to win some games."

Tye hit 21 from eight balls late on for the Steelbacks.

And Sanderson said: “When you've got wickets in hand, it's a licence for people like AJ and to be fair, every time he's gone in, he’s whacked it, we’ve just been too far behind the game for him to do anything to win us a game.

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"So it's about having that blueprint up the top, not panicking. Everyone had options to get off strike.

"It was a real good performance from the batters on a pitch that was doing something against some quality bowlers.

"So, that's the blueprint now to give a chance for these big hitters at the end to go and whack it."

Sanderson has now dismissed both Jos Buttler and Alex Hales for ducks during the past three days.

“That was nice," he said.

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"That was an off-cutter to Hales to be fair! I think somebody said he was going to leave it! But that came back a long way but it's always nice when you pick up big names like that.

"The Jos Buttler one was a delivery I’ve been working on quite a long time with Chris Liddle, so it’s come out perfectly.

"To get out someone of that calibre out is awesome.

“I'm quite flexible where I bowl. I still fancy myself to do a job at the end for the team.

"But at the minute my job is to just take wickets up front and take as many as I can. And luckily, I've been picking up a few, so hopefully that continues."

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Nottinghamshire head coach Peter Moores was impressed with the Steelbacks' showing.

He said: “They really played really well in the last four overs and got away from us a little bit and then took that momentum into the bowling.

“Those last four overs gave them confidence with the ball. They were looking at being 20 or 30 light of probably a par score.

"I thought we bowled really well up front, held some good catches and it looked like we’d got the game under control. And then the last four overs, it just got away.

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"To be fair, they kept wickets in hand, which helped them. And they had a little bit of luck, they played some good shots, that’s T20 cricket and that obviously meant we had to go a little bit harder in the powerplay.

"We still fancied it was a chaseable total and they played really well.

“I'd back us to chase that nine times out of 10, probably, but it wasn't an easy pitch in that it gripped a little bit.

"Then certainly as the game went on, it can became a bit harder to bat on.

"But take nothing away from them.

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"We don't get bowled out very often. But we're not going to change the style of the way we play. We’re aggressive with the bat, so from that point of view, we're going to keep going to play our shots. And you take your chances.

"Sometimes that's going to happen to you as a team. But if it does, we put it out of the way we just move on to the next game on Tuesday.

“We’re going to keep attacking the boundary. That's what we do. It's won us a lot of games of cricket.

“We never got a partnership of any significance and put those bowlers under pressure.

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"I thought Sanderson bowled really well, he got some movement out the pitch, got a couple of wickets in his last over which really hurt us.

“We don't take losing lightly, but by the same token, this tournament where the games come thick and fast, you don't want to dwell on it too long either. So, it’s important we just move on.

"We've got a massive game coming up now on Tuesday against Leicester and we just know we've got to play better.”