Posted: 28/08/19 by Northamptonshire County Cricket Club Ltd
Northamptonshire head into the final week of the Vitality Blast group stage facing a knockout scenario in their bid to reach the quarter-finals.
Victory at Edgbaston kept their campaign alive and Northants now head to Emerald Headingley for another must-win match. Success against Yorkshire could set up a winner-takes-all final qualifying match against Worcestershire Rapids at Wantage Road on Friday.
Even then, Northants are left relying on other results going their way – but for captain Josh Cobb, to still have a chance to reach the top four of the North Group with two matches remaining is a situation he feels can inspire his side.
“Sometimes it can free the mind knowing it’s win or bust,” said Cobb. “That’s the message we’ve been trying to send. You still saw some nerves on Sunday because we’re not playing at our most confident but we’re one from one now in this knockout phase and we move to the next step on Thursday.”
Sunday’s victory at Edgbaston saw a return to form for Richard Levi, who made 44 from only 27 balls to kick-start Northants’ chase. It was Levi’s highest score of the tournament, where he has only played five matches because of a neck injury.
“We really saw what we can do there,” said Cobb. “He’s known for that type of batting. Unfortunately he hasn’t played too many games for us but hopefully that’s the start of some form that he can carry into these last two matches and hopefully beyond that too.
“We need him because the batting hasn’t performed as we’d liked – whereas last year it was the other way around when the bowlers struggled. Wins gives you confidence, so we can take Sunday’s performance into this week and go and play with some freedom.
“It’s knockout cricket so it’s pretty simple, we have to go and get two more wins and see where it takes us.”
Cobb was handed the T20 captaincy less than two months before the tournament after Alex Wakely’s resignation as club captain in May. The transition was natural with Cobb an established senior player and he says he has enjoyed the challenge of leadership.
“Obviously it would be more enjoyable if we were sat in the top four,” said Cobb. “But we have played some good cricket - just not consistently. The weather hasn’t come at great times for us, particularly at Leicester, and it’s been difficult to get any momentum.
“But now is our chance. It’s now or never. Win these games and you never know what could happen from there. We know what we have to do so we have to be brave and go and do it.”
Advance tickets for the Steelbacks final home game are available online now.