We are still at the stage in the NatWest T20 Blast when all things are possible. This is particularly true in the Northern Group because of the disparity in the number of matches played. Durham may be top with eight points but they have played three more games than the Birmingham Bears and two more than the Outlaws.
Both of these teams who will compete at Edgbaston tonight are on six points, having won three games. Whilst the Bears will be pleased to have home advantage, the Outlaws will retain happy memories of their opening match of the campaign when they disposed of the Bears by the large margins of eight wickets and 5.3 overs. Tonight’s match will surely be much closer than that.
Ian Bell‘s 90 against Durham last Sunday set a new highest score in T20 cricket for the Bears. With Sam Hain injured, Jonathan Trott not in the T20 squad and Brendon McCullum still on international duty, the Bears’ top order batting has looked somewhat fragile, so Bell’s performance looks to be crucial if the team is to post a competitive score or chase down a target.
The Outlaws will have their third captain of the season in Riki Wessels and he could play a key role not just in this role but also as a hard-hitting and inventive batsman. Director of Cricket Mick Newell says of Wessels’ elevation to the captaincy: “With the way he thrives on new challenges I’m sure he’ll do a good job.”
The Birmingham Bears, as well as Hain and Trott, are without the injured Chris Woakes. They have named the same squad that they took to Durham. Depending on the pitch, there must be just a chance that leg-spinner Josh Poysden, a regular wicket-taker for the second team, will make the final eleven.
Birmingham Bears squad: Varun Chopra (c), Tim Ambrose (wk), Ian Bell, Rikki Clarke, Laurie Evans, Recordo Gordon, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Ateeq Javid ,Tom Lewis, Jeetan Patel, William Porterfield Josh Poysden, Boyd Rankin
Notts Outlaws will be without not only the injured Chris Read but also Harry Gurney who has a hamstring strain. James Taylor and Alex Hales are also absent on England duty. Stuart Broad is rested.St
Notts Outlaws squad: Riki Wessels (c), Jake Ball, Luke Fletcher, Will Gidman, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brett Hutton, Steven Mullaney, Samit Patel, Darren Sammy, Greg Smith, Brendan Taylor (wk), Sam Wood and Luke Wood.
Weather and Conditions
The forecast is for a warm evening, cooling to just below 20 degrees by the end of the game. There is also a threat of some showers, so spectators will no doubt be clutching their umbrellas, just as the captains and coaches will have their Duckworth Lewis calculations close to hand.
As for the pitch, a repeat of the one produced by groundsman Gary Barwell for Tuesday’s international match would do very nicely.
Date: 12 June
Ground: Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham
Umpires: Martin Saggers and Mike Burns
Odds (Skybet): Birmingham Bears 11/10; Notts Outlaws 8/11