Head coach Ripley confident the Steelbacks can deal with their Covid-19 curveball

Northants head coach David RipleyNorthants head coach David Ripley
Northants head coach David Ripley
David Ripley says the Steelbacks will deal with the Covid-19 'curveball' that has been thrown at the club ahead of Friday afternoon's big Vitality T20 showdown with Gloucestershire.

Northants will be without four players for their next two matches in the competition, after one player tested positive for coronavirus and three others have been forced to self-isolate after being in close contact with him.

Those three squad members have all been tested and their results have come back negative, but they are still not available to Ripley, and although that is a frustration for the head coach, he says the team will take it in their stride.

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Northants are refusing to name the players involved - although it may become pretty apparent once the squad for the Gloucester is announced - and Ripley says he has to just treat the situation as if he has lost players to injury.

"We have one lad who tested positive for Covid, and three lads who are out of the squad until the Worcestershire game (next Tuesday)," said the head coach.

"It is obviously a blow, but we will hopefully have Adam Rossington back who has missed a couple of games, and the fact is you can have injuries can't you?

"You get affected by those injuries, and although at this moment in time we have been thrown something of a curveball, you have players who can now come in and do well.

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"The main thing for us is to now try and park that and not use it as an excuse.

"We have got a good squad, we are in a good position and that helps, and we back the depth of our squad to keep us pushing.

"If we have a couple of guys out, then somebody else comes in and does the job for us, that is how we are looking at it."

When the news broke of the positive test in the camp last Sunday morning, Northants had just started a Bob Willis Trophy match at Gloucestershire.

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Two of the players who had been in contact with the infected player were in the County team, and the match was abandoned, the story making national headlines in the cricketing world.

There then followed three days of radio silence from Wantage Road as the club and England & Wales Cricket Board dealt with the matter, with the entire playing squad and coaching staff being tested, with all of those coming back negative.

It was an anxious time, and it wasn't until late on Wednesday afternoon that is was confirmed by the ECB that the Steelbacks would be allowed to resume their T20 Blast campaign against Gloucestershire on Friday.

So, heading into that game, is there a feeling of relief for Ripley?

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"I think there's a little bit of that," he said. "But I guess there was also a little bit of shock in terms of how quickly things altered down in Gloucester.

"One minute it was 'somebody has had a positive test, that's not great news', and then you stumble into the next bit where you find out he has stayed somewhere, and it's 'oh, so they have to be out'.

"Then you realise this guy was there as well, so he's out, and it just stumbled along from one thing to the other.

"Then you obviously do think about the T20s and who else might be affected.

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"It did also mean that people did have an opinion, and were wondering what we were doing and shouldn't be doing, but thankfully it has all come to a conclusion now.

"I hope that will be the end of that and we can just get on with playing cricket."

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