Steelbacks skipper Wakely can't wait for T20 competition to start

Alex Wakely will lead his side into battle against Leicestershire this evening (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Alex Wakely will lead his side into battle against Leicestershire this evening (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Skipper Alex Wakely says excitement levels are high as Northants prepare for their Vitality Blast opener against Leicestershire Foxes on Wednesday evening (start time 6.30pm).

The Steelbacks will look to get off to a flying start on home soil.

But Leicestershire will provide a stern test, having won at the County Ground in the Royal London One-Day Cup this season and in the T20 tournament last year.

Wakely and Co can't wait to get started as they look to take the confidence gained from back-to-back Championship wins into the shorter format of the game.

“It’s an exciting time for everyone,” Wakely said.

“It’s a chance to get in the nets and start smacking balls around - there’s a different excitement around the place and people come in with a different enthusiasm.

“The grind of four-day cricket is behind us for a bit and we’ve had a couple of good wins so confidence is high and we’re looking forward to getting going with the T20.”

The Steelbacks have enjoyed several days' preparation ahead of their opening T20 game.

They played two practice matches against Warwickshire on Monday and have a near fully fit squad to choose from, aside from RIchard Gleeson, who is lacking match action.

“Last year was a shambles with the schedule and we were totally underprepared,” said Wakely.

“But this year is completely different and we’ve got a chance to get some proper practice in and some competitive cricket, so by the time the first ball comes down today we’ll be fully prepared.

“I’m a massive believer in momentum the way our T20 is set up. I’ve been on both ends of it and it’s tough to turn it around either way - when you’re winning you turn up and just expect to win and when you’re losing it’s hard to get the practice in to really turn things round.

“So a good start is crucial for us - we haven’t always done that over the past few years and we’ve had to claw it back so it would be nice to get some wins in early, get the confidence high with individuals putting in some match-winning performances.”

The matches come thick and fast with last season’s champions Notts Outlaws coming to the County Ground on Friday before a trip to Old Trafford on Sunday in a replay of the 2015 final, that Lancashire Lightning won.

“I think we’ve got one of the best T20 sides in country on paper.” said Wakely. “Of course it doesn’t mean anything unless you go out and perform but if you write a side down for us, we seem to have every base covered.

“Selection will be tough, some guys will have to miss out but that means we’re in a good place and that’s where we want to be. It hasn’t always been that way, it’s sometimes been an easy environment when guys know they’re in the team with no one putting pressure on them whereas this year there’s always going to be people wanting to play.

“And why wouldn’t you want to play in T20? It’s fun, it’s exciting, it gets the crowds in and hopefully the town can get behind us.”