Northamptonshire enter a crucial week in the Royal London One-Day Cup with their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages resting on three games in five days, starting with Wednesday’s trip to Warwickshire.
Wins over Nottinghamshire and Lancashire were sandwiched between defeats to Leicestershire and Durham, leaving Alex Wakely’s side needing three wins from their final four matches to earn a play-off spot.
“We just haven’t quite clicked so far in this competition,” said Wakely. “We’ve played some decent cricket and beaten a couple of very good sides but now we have it all to do. We’ve probably got to win three more games to definitely get through. There’s no reason why we can’t do that – the side we’ve got is very good.
“It’s pretty frustrating and disappointing because we should have won all four games so far. We’re not far away from it and we need to produce our best cricket pretty quickly because this competition can quickly slip away from you.”
Northants’ have struggled to finish well with the ball when bowling first. In three efforts so far, in the final five overs of the innings Leicestershire made 44 runs and Lancashire and Durham 46 – the former and latter being decisive late bursts.
“We have struggled with our death bowling over the last few years but we have worked on it,” said Wakely. “I do think we have the right plans in place but we’re just not executing it properly. We’re not far away but we’re probably giving away 10-15 too many late on at the moment.
“With the bat what we’ve talked about is someone bringing the stump in, so getting a big hundred, being not out at the end and we haven’t had that.
“It’s the inconsistency that is so Northants. We haven’t had anyone that has grabbed the game – that special over that wins you the game. If we’re going to be more consistent we have to have guys doing that. If you look at the best one-day sides over the last few years they find a way to win.
“We’ve played some really good cricket over the last three years in this competition but with nothing to show for it.”
A feature of their run to the quarter-final in 2016 was the form of Ben Duckett, who made 443 runs, averaging 63. But his form has completely deserted him this season.
“He doesn’t suddenly become a bad player,” said Wakely. “He’ll come back no doubt. Mentally he is okay, it’s a very isolated game cricket when it’s not going well. He’s a good kid and he’ll turn it around soon.”