by Dave Bracegirdle at the 3Ws Oval
Northants Steelbacks suffered a huge defeat at the 3Ws Oval as they came up against an in-form Notts Outlaws side, for whom Alex Hales and Michael Lumb posted an opening stand of 87.
Notts eventually reached 172-6 but on a difficult, turning wicket Northants struggled in their reply and were dismissed for just 80 in the 18th over.
Understandably Head Coach David Ripley was a little disappointed with the outcome but paid credit to three of Nottinghamshire’s batsmen.
“The two openers have been playing international cricket this winter in this format of the game, they looked in-form but there were things we could have done differently in that period of time against them.
“We came back into the game very well with some quick wickets but James Taylor just kind of took it away from us a little bit at the end. I thought his innings was very good – I thought all the three guys who have been busy this winter looked in good form for them.”
Ripley conceded the defeat perhaps looked heavier than it might have been.
“Although we are disappointed to have lost so heavily I think it was a tough ask for us first up to be facing Notts, a good side with people in good nick.
“We wanted to compete and try and keep going and see if we could get an impossible target, so wickets fell regularly and margin of defeat was perhaps heavier than if we’d just batted it out.”
After Chris Read had chosen to bat both Lumb and Hales kick-started their innings with impressive shots off the bowling of David Willey.
Lumb drove the left-armer powerfully to the long off fence before his partner heaved a mighty six over midwicket.
A savage assault then followed as Alex Wakely rotated his bowlers without success. The initial six-over power-play produced 81 runs with the rope cleared six times.
The two batsmen had added an undefeated 146 on the previous occasion they had opened together, for England in New Zealand last month.
That run was extended to 233 before Lumb fell for 33 (20 balls, 3x4, 2x6), bowled by one that turned sharply from Matthew Spriegel and kept a touch low.
Having been on the back-foot and staring at a total in excess of 200 Northants then struck back in impressive fashion with three more wickets in the space of six deliveries.
Hales, having just passed his half-century was given out lbw to Con de Lange. His 53 had come from 30 balls with four fours and as many sixes.
Riki Wessels (2) and Steven Mullaney (0) both fell in the same James Middlebrook over and it became 113-5 when Chris Read (8) was run out at the bowlers end after a deflected shot from Taylor.
Sam Wood (7) was taken at point by a diving Wakely, off Rob Keogh but the same bowler was then clubbed for a four and three sixes by Taylor (46 not out from 34 deliveries) in the nineteeth over.
Chasing an imposing 173 Northants had barely got out of the starting blocks before they were five wickets down with only 32 on the board.
Ajmal Shahzad’s first wicket for Notts was that of Steven Crook (1) who was caught in the deep by Steven Mullaney.
New man Alex Wakely suffered the worst possible punishment, run out without scoring after a stunning direct hit from short fine leg by Andy Carter.
Carter then yorked Rob Newton (17) and Ben Duckett (0) in his next over.
The Steelbacks struggled against the excessive turn and bounce as slow-left-armer Graeme White claimed figures of 4-10, removing Spriegel (5), Keogh (16), de Lange (14) and Middlebrook (2).
David Willey (8) hit Mullaney for six but then fell next ball as the innings petered out with a whimper.
Northants will now play Hampshire in the final of the Plate competition, a match that will begin at 4pm local time.
“It will be a good experience for the players to play at Kensington Oval,” said Ripley. “We’ve talked about things we need to improve upon. It was frustrating that today we didn’t execute some of the things we’ve been working on throughout the winter.”