The first RLODC quarter-final takes place at Trent Bridge tomorrow night as the contenders in one of last year’s semi-finals meet one another. Durham travel down to Nottingham with the hope that the awful weather dries up and a game can ensue.
Durham just about edged their way into the knockout stages, finishing fourth in Group A, largely thanks to back-to-back wins against the other two East Midlands sides, Leicestershire and Derbyshire. Nottinghamshire, on the other hand, have rolled into the quarter-finals with one hand tied behind their backs. They finished top of Group B with just the one loss to their name. They have had to settle for two “no-results”, including one against Hampshire that lasted just long enough for the Outlaws’ top order to remind us just how good they are.
Interestingly, on reaching the quarter-finals last season, Durham were in a very similar position to this year with nine points on the board and having just won their last two group matches. They, of course, went on to win the tournament. Another interesting point is that these two sides faced one another in the semi-finals last season and Durham swiftly dispatched the Outlaws with an 83-run win.
Notts fans can note that the win was in a good part due to a very impressive 164 from Ben Stokes, who is not available for their visitors this year. Durham fans can equally point to the fact that Durham have steadily improved and might just have hit their best form right in time for this game.
Durham have a title to defend and Notts have a limited-overs knockout pedigree that they will be keen to get maintain. Whatever happens, these are two teams with a great history in a tournament with no history. One has a top order that just seems to click when they pick up their bats and the other has all round excellence and Paul Collingwood.
Notts have a top order that boasts some of the best in the tournament, but arguably their most powerful is Alex Hales who has had a superb season and has shown once again what a top class player he is in this form of the game. His 103 off just 61 balls in the Outlaws’ hammering of Warwickshire is just one of his outstanding performances. When Alex Hales puts his foot on the gas, he can be difficult to stop and he has a tendency to step up to the plate in the big matches.
With names like Collingwood, Rushworth, Hastings and Onions in their line-up Durham have a pile of experience and quality, but the outstanding name has to be Scott Borthwick who is incredibly capable with both bat and ball. His 81 against the Foxes was overshadowed only by his five wickets in the same match. It’s performances like that that might just see Durham through to the next round.
The Outlaws will be without Ashes hero Stuart Broad for obvious reasons. Dan Christian should appear, but it will likely be his last appearance for the side as he is due to head back down under. Gurney, Fletcher, Hutton and Ball will be competing for the final three places in a four-man seam attack with the Australian.
Nottinghamshire squad: James Taylor (c), Chris Read (wk), Jake Ball, Dan Christian, Luke Fletcher, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Brett Hutton, Steven Mullaney, Samit Patel, Brendan Taylor, Riki Wessels
Like their hosts, Durham will be missing internationals. Mark Wood and Ben Stokes are still unavailable thanks to England duties. Otherwise, the same squad that beat Derbyshire last week will travel south to Trent Bridge.
Durham squad: Mark Stoneman (c), Phil Mustard (wk), Scott Borthwick, Graham Clark, Michael Richardson, Paul Collingwood, Gordon Muchall, Calum MacLeod, Ryan Pringle, Keaton Jennings, Ryan Hastings, Graham Onions, Chris Rushworth
Weather and conditions: The weather in the East Midlands has been wet and dark this week and, unfortunately, things do not look like they will improve. The forecast is for rain lasting from mid-afternoon through to late evening, so we can only hope a result is possible.
Date: Tuesday 25th August, 2015
Ground: Trent Bridge
Odds (Sky Bet): Notts 8/15, Durham 11/8