A valiant effort from Rob Keogh wasn’t enough as the Steelbacks fell 7 runs short in their opening game of the Vitality Blast.

A few new faces joined the Steelbacks side as overseas signings Faheem Ashraf and Dwaine Pretorius joined the likes of young guns Charlie Thurston and Tom Sole. Some early drizzle threatened to get in the way of the start, but it held off as new white-ball captain Josh Cobb won the toss and elected to bowl.

Despite being wicketless, the Steelbacks will have been happy with their first powerplay of the season. Durham managing just 29 runs in the opening 6 overs, Cobb mixing his attack up from both ends. At the halfway stage Durham still had all 10 wickets in hand as the total moved to 63. White struck soon after though, taking his first wicket of 2019 as Short was beaten in flight and caught at long on. White had a second wicket in his final over, Steel falling for the same trap to give Coles a second catch. Faheem Ashraf claimed his first scalp in a Steelbacks shirt when he sent off stump flying on his way to figures of 1/29. Ben Sanderson chipped in with a wicket too as Thurston claimed a simple catch on the boundary, the standout of Northamptonshire’s red ball campaign so far finishing with 1/31. Durham productive between the wickets throughout, utilising the long boundaries and building their way to a total of 148/4 in their 20.

The Steelbacks reply was littered with regular wickets which had the visitors in trouble throughout. Thurston went in just the second over and poor luck saw the end of Cobb’s first innings as T20 captain, the ball getting caught up in his thigh pad and ricocheting back onto leg stump. Loan signing Matt Coles came in at 4 with clear intent, but the long legside boundary proved too long as he found the man in the deep, the Steelbacks now 23/3.

Rossington looked to be playing in a different game as he continued to find the boundary with ease, clearing the ropes twice over the legside and piercing offside gaps with power. Rossington too was unlucky in his dismissal, feathering a sweep to a ball well down the legside, keeper Poynter hanging on to a smart catch to end his innings on 47. Dwaine Pretorius looked to show some of his international class but became another victim of the long boundary, Burnham taking an excellent diving catch.

With 5 overs to go the Steelbacks needed 52, Faheem having come and gone looking to take on the long boundary. The game looked long gone for the Steelbacks before Keogh and White began working gaps and running hard. The pair took the equation to 20 from 12 with Northants fans now a little more interested. The 19th over went for just 5 though, a familiar 15 runs needed from the final over.

Despite Keogh finding the boundary with the first ball of the 20th, it task proved too great as the Steelbacks fell 7 runs short. Keogh finishing with 30 not out off 22, a fighting innings against a tough equation.

Durham 148/4 (White 2/36, Faheem 1/29)

Northamptonshire Steelbacks 141/9 (Rossington 47, Keogh 30*)

Full scorecard.

The Steelbacks next game is away to the Notts Outlaws on Wednesday the 24th of July. The first home fixture of the season sees the Birmingham Bears come to The County Ground on Friday the 26thSave by buying tickets online in advance.