The final round of T20 Blast group games sees seven teams slug it out for the four qualifying spots in the South Group. Both Glamorgan and Gloucestershire are in contention, although the Welsh county harbour far more realistic hopes.
Gloucestershire are heavily reliant on a combination of results going in their favour, as well as defeating Glamorgan themselves to sneak into the quarter-finals. Glamorgan know that a victory for them will give them a good chance of qualifying, but there are also heavily reliant on other matches going their way on Friday evening.
The home side head into this match on the back of a Championship shellacking at the hands of Lancashire; however, last time out in the shortest format they beat Kent by a single run in a thriller at Tunbridge Wells. Glamorgan’s home form has been patchy in this year’s competition and they have won just two of their six home matches thus far.
For a side that prides itself on its one-day performances in the past couple of seasons, a place in the last eight of the T20 Blast is a must for Toby Radford and his men.
For the team standing in their way, perhaps they will play with a little more freedom knowing that it is very unlikely that they can make the next stage. Gloucestershire have struggled somewhat in this year’s competition, mainly due to being unable to pull together individual brilliance into a cohesive team performance. Recent victories over both Somerset and Hampshire have hinted at what might have been had the side gelled earlier in the competition.
On a Cardiff pitch that is likely to be slow and take some turn, the battle between the spinners may be important. Glamorgan may well preserve with their two-prong spin attack of Dean Cosker and Andrew Salter, despite both having been expensive in recent matches. For Gloucestershire, Tom Smith will lead the spin department having taken 23 wickets already this season, already more than any Gloucestershire player in a T20 season.
Graham Wagg is certainly a versatile cricketer. During last week’s nail-biting win over Kent, he hauled his side to a competitive total with a boisterous innings of 59 from 28 balls, then followed it up by returning tidy figures of 1/32 in a high scoring match. Not to mention the fact he turned his hand to left arm spin during the Championship drubbing at Colwyn Bay. He has scored over 200 runs and taken 13 wickets in this years competition, and how he fares on Friday night will likely have a bearing on Glamorgan’s performance, and in turn, their chance of qualification.
Gloucestershire skipper Michael Klinger could not stop scoring runs during the opening weeks of the T20 Blast, and whilst his form has slowed somewhat, he still has the impressive tally of 653 runs. These have come at the ludicrous average of 93.28 and a strike rate in excess of 140. He needs only 25 runs to break the record for most runs in an English T20 season, going past Jason Roy’s efforts last summer.
Glamorgan name an unchanged squad of 12 after their narrow victory over Kent last week. 18-year-old batsman Aneurin Donald will be looking to impress after belting an undefeated double hundred for the second XI earlier this week.
Glamorgan squad: Jacques Rudolph (c), Colin Ingram, Aneurin Donald, Ben Wright, Chris Cooke, Craig Meschede, Graham Wagg, Mark Wallace, David Lloyd, Andrew Salter, Dean Cosker, Michael Hogan
The visitors are missing three frontline batsmen with Ian Cockbain and Hamish Marshall both out injured, and Peter Handscomb in India with Australia A. Tom Smith takes the spinner’s berth, while Fuller, Miles, Norwell and Payne will all be in contention for a starring role with the bal.
Gloucestershire squad: Michael Klinger (C), Chris Dent, Benny Howell, Geraint Jones, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Jack Taylor, James Fuller, Tom Smith, Craig Miles, Liam Norwell, David Payne, Miles Hammond, Will Tavare.
Weather and Conditions
The forecast is not good for Cardiff on Friday, with heavy rain expected all morning and well into the afternoon. Hopefully the rain will clear up by 6pm, but we could be in for a reduced over match.
Date: 23rd July 2015
Venue: The SSE SWALEC, Cardiff
Odds: Glamorgan 8/11 Gloucestershire 11/10