The Steelbacks have a double-header of NatWest T20 Blast away games this week, starting with Derbyshire on Thursday. The Steelbacks are the only unbeaten team in the group at the moment, having beaten both Yorkshire Vikings and Leicestershire Foxes in dramatic fashion in the opening two weeks.
Last week saw the Steelbacks take on Leicestershire Foxes in an East Midlands Derby here at the County Ground, in what was an absolute thriller. The game was shortened to 18 overs apiece due to rain, with Leicestershire batting first, Josh Cobb (70) and Greg Smith (56) fired the visitors to 176/4. Kiwi Ian Butler was the pick of the Steelbacks bowlers taking 2 for 29, whilst Muhammad Azhar Ullah also took two wickets.
In reply, Richard Levi got the Steelbacks off to a quick start scoring 17 from 10 deliveries. However, fellow opener David Willey was the man that led the Steelbacks charge, as he annihilated the Leicestershire bowling attack, scoring 95 from 45 balls including 6 massive sixes. The game came down to the final over though, as Graeme White hit a four to seal a brilliant Steelbacks victory by two wickets, with just two balls remaining.
Derbyshire have had a tough start to their NatWest T20 Blast campaign, having lost their opening two games. Last week they faced Lancashire Lightning at home. The Derbyshire bowlers struggled as Lancashire finished on 169/3, with Wes Durston the pick of the bowlers, recording figures of 1 for 27. In reply, despite 5 of their 7 batsmen reaching double figures, no one went on to make a big score for Derbyshire, as Stephen Moore top scored with 40. This led to Derbyshire finishing well short of their target, as they ended on 149/5, losing by 20 runs.
However, the Steelbacks will not take Derbyshire lightly, as they are well led by Wayne Madsen, and have the experienced Australian Marcus North in their ranks, who can change a game. In the opening NatWest T20 Blast game this season against Leicestershire Foxes, North scored a supreme 90 from just 47 balls, so will be one to watch out for.
Head Coach David Ripley has made a few changes to his Steelbacks squad for this trip to Derbyshire.
Olly Stone misses out due to injury, with Maurice Chambers replacing him in the squad.
Also coming into the 13-man squad are Rob Keogh and David Sales.
Muhammad Azhar Ullah