Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Duckett glimpse proves enough for Northants

Ben Duckett hits out Getty Images

Northants 154 for 6 (Duckett 37, Cobb 30) beat Leicestershire 148 for 7 (Dearden 61) by four wickets

A wretched season for the Northamptonshire Steelbacks in the Vitality Blast at least ended on a high note as they avenged their morale-sapping opening-day defeat at the hands of the Leicestershire with a comprehensive win at the Fischer County Ground.

Chasing 149 to win, the Steelbacks got home with nine balls to spare. Ben Duckett made 33 off 24 balls, including an audacious scoop for six off pace bowler Zak Chappell, after Ben Curran - the middle one of the three Curran brothers - had caught the eye.

Curran celebrated the contract he was awarded at Wantage Road earlier this week with a bright 29 off just 18 balls, taking four boundaries in an over off Chappell. His striking in a 50-run partnership with Ben Duckett was key in the Steelbacks racing to 63-1 in the powerplay, giving themselves a platform they did not waste.

Josh Cobb made a run-a-ball 30 and, after a wobble in which four wickets fell in three overs as Dieter Klein dismissed both Wakely and Cobb in the space of six ball without conceding a run, Graeme White finished the job with 21 off nine deliveries, winning the match by clubbing Colin Ackermann's off-spin for six over deep midwicket as off-spinner Tom Sole kept his nerve on his T20 debut at the other end.

It was only their second win in the Blast and makes no difference to their finishing position at the bottom of the North Group but provided some satisfaction after the Foxes denied them in a remarkable game at Wantage Road at the start of the competition, when the Steelbacks failed to defend 213-3.

Having put the Foxes in, the Steelbacks made a fine start with the ball, reducing the home side to 35-3 in the powerplay despite being forced to change their plans in the second over when a distraught Gareth Wade had to be removed from the attack on his T20 debut after two of his first three deliveries slipped out as beamers.

The right-arm seamer, called into a Northamptonshire side who, like the Foxes, had chosen to rest a number of players with nothing on this game, was trusted with the second over of the innings but was no-balled for a high full toss with his first delivery and, after Ned Eckersley had crashed the free hit away for four, immediately sent down another full toss above waist height, which gave the umpires no option other than to call no ball again and direct skipper Wakely to withdraw Wade.

Wade is 27 and has three or four seasons' experience Minor Counties and Second XI cricket but only two senior appearances. Nerves seemed the only explanation for such an unfortunate start.

Cobb had to bowl the five balls remaining in the over yet it was the Foxes who soon in disarray, losing Eckersley, Harry Swindells and Ackermann inside the first six overs, Wade making himself feel a little better by taking a catch at mid-off when Swindells hit Luke Procter over his head.

A smart piece of work by Duckett behind the stumps to take advantage as Chappell stumbled as he swung at a wide delivery as Wakely introduced Graeme White's left-arm spin left the Foxes 37-4 in the seventh.

It came down to 21-year-old Harry Dearden to rescue the Foxes' innings, at least in part, sharing a stand of 62 with Ateeq Javid for the fifth wicket on the way to a 40-ball 61 that included a couple of sixes and five fours.

Dearden, who has plenty of first-class experience but was making his debut in this format, might have added a few more but for bowler Richard Gleeson's quick thinking, the bowler running him out in his follow-through as he tried to steal a single from a miscued shot by Lewis Hall that landed halfway down the pitch.

Northants 2nd innings Partnerships

1st50BM DuckettBJ Curran
2nd40JJ CobbBM Duckett
3rd20AG WakelyJJ Cobb
4th9JJ CobbCO Thurston
5th1JJ CobbTB Sole
6th5LA ProcterTB Sole
7th29GG WhiteTB Sole