No secret to Northants' success, it's hard work, says Cobb

Josh Cobb was delighted to be able to celebrate signing a new three-year deal with Northants Steelbacks by helping them to the NatWest T20 Blast title.

Northamptonshire Steelbacks players celebrate with the trophy after winning the T20 Final during the NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston, Birmingham. (Picture: PA).
Northamptonshire Steelbacks players celebrate with the trophy after winning the T20 Final during the NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston, Birmingham. (Picture: PA).

The all-rounder was named man of the match in the final for the second time in his career, having been handed the honour in 2011 after taking 4-22 in Leicestershire Foxes’ triumph.

The 26-year-old moved to Wantage Road three years later and thrashed a brilliant 80 to help his side recover from 9-3 to beat Durham by four wickets at Edgbaston.

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“My one with Leicester was for bowling a few long-hops,” he joked. “To get it with the bat, the position we were in, makes it very special.”

Cobb penned a new contract on Friday and joked: “I should have given it a few more days and I might have got a few more quid. I wasn’t massively enjoying my cricket at Leicester, but I came here and they had an exceptional white-ball side which was part of the reason – to try and play in big games.

“I’ve really enjoyed my cricket, a great bunch of lads, the team spirit’s exceptional and I’ve been here two years and I’ve played in three of four possible quarter-finals and two T20 finals.”

Durham, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire all welcomed back a host of international stars for Finals Day in front of a sell-out 23,000 crowd, but it was Alex Wakely’s team of youngsters and journeymen who saw off first Notts in a thrilling semi-final and then Durham. Only two of this Northants side have played international cricket, and South Africans Richard Levi and Rory Kleinveldt last represented their country in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

However, Wakely believes not having to chop and change the squad that got them to Finals Day was advantageous.

“There’s always stuff written about Northants that’s not great,” said Wakely. “In this dressing room there was always belief we could win this tournament.

“There was no secret to why we’ve been successful at it – a lot of hard work’s gone in.

“We play together as a team and we genuinely enjoy each other’s success. The fact we’ve got such a small squad means we’re not looking over each other’s shoulders. There’s no jealousy – it’s just the best feeling in the world.

“I genuinely believe this group of players are as talented as there is. My role is just to try and keep everyone together. If you’ve got a happy changing room, you perform.

“When we sign players, I would rather have someone for the whole season rather than on big money for four or five games and I believe the continuity in the dressing room helps.

“We’ve managed to play pretty much the whole team all the way through the competition. You look at Notts – they’ve chopped and changed their side and it doesn’t always weigh up.

“Greg Smith at Notts, for me, was one of the best players for Notts all year then he’s not playing – I don’t agree with it. You’ve got some international players, they’re going to come back and play, but we don’t have that problem.”

Wakely and Ben Duckett hit half-centuries against Notts in the first semi-final to lift the Steelbacks from 15-3 to 161-8, a score that proved eight too many for the Outlaws.

And having been reduced to 9-3 chasing 154 in the final, Wakely and Cobb shared a stand of 120 from only 78 balls to turn the contest on its head.

Beaten Durham captain Paul Collingwood believes his side were at a disadvantage playing the second semi-final, with several showers early in the day forcing a quick turnaround before the final.

He said: “The intensity and the energy that you use during a T20 match, trying to turn that around in half an hour, it’s unfortunate. It is what it is because of the rain delays, but it’s unfortunate.”