As the country’s eyes turn to Brazil and the Rio Olympics, all eyes in the English cricketing world will be turning to Trent Bridge for the first of the Natwest T20 Blast quarter finals where Nottinghamshire, winners of the North Group, host the Essex Eagles who finished fourth in the South Group.
Neither side has ever won the English domestic T20 competition in its various guises, but Nottinghamshire came closest in 2006 when they were runners up to Leicestershire at Trent Bridge, their home ground. This will be Nottinghamshire’s sixth consecutive quarter final appearance, however they have not converted one of those quarterfinals since 2010 when they last reached finals day.
Essex are also a team of impressive T20 pedigree with this, their fifth consecutive quarter final but, like Nottinghamshire, their conversion rate has been poor recently not having reached finals day since 2013.
One of these sides will clearly put that right on Monday night and progress to finals day at Edgbaston on August 20th. With home advantage and the form that Nottinghamshire are in, having won eight consecutive games when the weather hasn’t intervened, I would be very surprised if Essex don’t have to wait another year for their chance to win their first NatwestT20 Blast championship.
I have been wrong before, though, and will no doubt be again in the future. If you can’t be at the ground, or watch on TV you can keep up to date with regular updates by following @deepextra_cover or @Lloydzilla on Twitter.
If Trent Bridge were a combustible ground, you would be throwing a bucket of water on Riki Wessels before allowing him in this season. He has been on fire in T20 cricket in 2016. The opening batsman has scored 360 runs at an average of 45 runs and at a strike rate of 143.43, which give the Nottinghamshire innings a real impetus with his opening partner Michael Lumb. If Essex can dismiss Wessels early and put the brakes on the innings, then it will only enhance their chances.
Every T20 game could be Graham Napier’s last at the moment, as he will retire at the end of the season and he will be desperate to finish off in style by reaching finals day. Napier is a strong allrounder who opens the bowling and then bowls again at the death; who has equal ability to keep it tight and take vital wickets. Put the bat in his hand and, when he is on song, there isn’t a ground big enough to stop him clearing the ropes. Who can forget his magnificent 152 run innings off 58 balls which included16 sixes? If he can repeat that kind of form then Nottinghamshire will have a big challenge on their hands.
Nottinghamshire squad: Dan Christian (captain), Chris Read (wicket-keeper), Jake Ball, Luke Fletcher, Harry Gurney, Michael Lumb, Steven Mullaney, Samit Patel, Greg Smith, Imran Tahir, Brendan Taylor, Riki Wessels, Luke Wood.
Essex Squad: Ravi Bopara (captain), James Foster (wicket-keeper), David Masters, Nick Browne, Graham Napier, Tom Westley, Paul Walter, Ryan ten Doeschate, Dan Lawrence, Jaik Mickleburgh, Jamie Porter, Callum Taylor, Jesse Ryder, Matt Quinn, Ashar Zaidi
Weather and conditions
The weather is set fair with sun forecast throughout the evening with temperatures in the high teens, shirt sleeves should be the order of the evening and the dreaded Duckworth Lewis system should not be required.
Date: 8th August 2016
Ground: Trent Bridge Cricket Ground, Nottingham
Odds (SkyBet): Nottinghamshire 8/13, Essex 5/4