Northamptonshire face a crucial meeting with Derbyshire on Thursday as they seek to keep alive their hopes of reaching the Vitality Blast quarter-finals.

Four defeats from their opening four matches leaves Northants needing to win eight of their remaining 10 games to secure a top-four spot.

Head coach David Ripley admitted morale was low after a poor start to the competition and his side needed a refreshed approach to bring about a change in fortune.

“We’ve got a good T20 side, we’ve won plenty of T20 matches but at the moment that ‘go-get-her’ attitude that we’ve built our game on just isn’t quite there,” said Ripley. “We’ve obviously tried since the first defeat to turn it around and now, mentally we’ve got to give ourselves a nudge. 

“Things are pretty low at the moment and you don’t play your best cricket like that. We need something to fire us and some match-winners to step forward. We’ll have to look at how we practise and the intensity of our practice.”

Northants have often begun the T20 competition slowly but the manner of these four defeats – conceding 692 runs from 389 deliveries – suggests this season they are performing at a lower level than the previous three years. 

“My main concern is our little malaise in the field and lack of execution with the ball,” said Ripley. “When you’re going for the scores we’ve conceded it’s tough – especially on some of the smaller grounds – but that’s where we’ve got to make the most improvement, how we get in and out of our overs, our skills and varieties that we use. We’re well off the pace at the moment.

“We’ve got to think about where slower balls can come in and where our spin can perhaps influence the game more.”

So what can be done to reverse the slide? “Richard Gleeson is fit again and has had three games for the second XI, he hasn’t been at his best but he’s an option,” said Ripley. “Luke Procter bowling plenty of mix-ups is something else we could use. Other guys like Saif Zaib and Kyle Coetzer are chomping at the bit to get a chance but there’s a balance in being fair to players already in the side.

“Ultimately, we’ve got to recognise that what we’re doing isn’t good enough and then have the desire to change and improve that. I’m sure that’s there and we’ve just got to work hard and get guys sticking their hands up to produce a few moments for us.”

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