After missing out on the chance to seal qualification on Wednesday, Northants will look to seal their place in the last eight by beating Durham at Wantage Road in the final group fixture.
The Steelbacks could have been safely qualified last Friday but wins for Lancashire and Nottinghamshire meant their six wicket win against Yorkshire wasn’t enough, and after suffering defeat by a single run to Birmingham now face a potentially nervy final day.
David Ripley’s men know their fate remains firmly in their own hands as only a home loss and wins for both Lancashire and Notts, who visit Leicestershire and Worcestershire respectively will deny them, though rain could have the final say with the forecast terrible for across the county.
Wednesday’s defeat was only their second in their last ten games as the Steelbacks reversed a start which saw the opening night defeat at Durham followed by two further loses before they stormed up the table.
Durham meanwhile have only pride to play for after their qualification hopes were ended by defeat to Nottinghamshire last week, their seventh loss out of eight, as their campaign fizzled out after a promising start.
Weather permitting, Northants and Durham will contest 140 overs of cricket within a 24 hour period as they also face each other in the opening fixture of the Royal London One-Day Cup, which starts at 10:30am, less than 13 hours from the scheduled final ball on Friday night.
Alex Wakely may not catch the eye in Northants powerful batting line-up, but the Northants captain provides the glue in the middle order to hold everything together, with scores of 46 and an unbeaten 51* in his last two matches.
Mark Stoneman has led the way for Durham at the top of the order, his sides leading run scorer with 342 runs with three half centuries. If the Jets do go with youth it will be crucial the captain once again hits form.
Northants have no new injury worries ahead of the final group game and having used just 14 players so far in the competition are likely to stick with the same eleven that played the last two games, as David Willey continued his comeback from an ankle injury.
Northants Steelbacks squad: tba
Durham have also kept a close knit squad with 15 players used, eight of which have played in all 13 of the group games so far. However with qualification now beyond their reach, youngsters Adam Hickey and Barry McCarthy are named in a 13 man squad, with Chris Rushworth rested.
Durham Jets squad: Mark Stoneman (c), Usman Arshad, Scott Borthwick, Graham Clark, Jamie Harrison, Adam Hickey, Keaton Jennings, Barry McCarthy, Gordon Muchall, Phil Mustard, Graham Onions, Ryan Pringle, Michael Richardson.
Weather and conditions
Friday night’s forecast is quite frankly awful for Northampton with rain set to start mid-morning and continue throughout the day, putting the game in real doubt. However if play is possible the Wantage Road pitches have generally been high scoring this season.
Date: Friday July 24th
Venue: Wantage Road, Northampton
Odds: Northants 8/15, Durham 6/4