After bad weather has essentially given Derbyshire a week off, tonight they face West-Midlanders Birmingham Bears for another fixture of Friday night Blast action.
Ask a layman who he’d put his money on and it’s likely he’d opt for tonight’s visitors. It’s a fair call: they come bearing names such as Ian Bell, Chris Woakes and Luke Ronchi.
Take a closer look, though, and you’ll see that the two sides are fairly evenly matched. They sit third and fourth in the North division table, with Derbyshire the higher of the two, and both sides having won two and lost one. They have met six times in the Natwest Blast and have taken three wins each.
Birmingham have been to T20 Finals Day a couple of times, including last season, while the Falcons are yet to make that visit. Birmingham have a host of well-known faces in their side; the Falcons have Hamish Rutherford and Matt Critchley, whose economy rate is the best in the tournament.
Laymen, put your money on the Bears if you please. The rest of us know this one can go either way, and it could be another wash out.
Since moving down the road from Leicester at the end of 2014, Shiv Thakor has matured into an excellent medium pace bowler. In Derbyshire’s second to last fixture, he thanked his former club by taking three wickets for just 17 runs against them. With a batting line up the likes of Birmingham’s, clinical bowling will be required. Averaging 13.8 with the ball this season, Thakor also has solid technique with the bat that has often helped him keep a calm head in the face of a pacey attack.
Against Notts Outlaws, in their first T20 outing this season, many a fan worried when Bell was removed in the chase for just 11. They needn’t have worried, however, for his opening partner, the 20-year-old Sam Hain, is equally capable and his unbeaten 92 proved the bulk of the Bears’ chase. The Hong-Kong-born-Australian-bred Warwickshire boy is having an excellent season in white ball cricket and could prove essential to the cause once again.
The Falcons are still without Wes Durston, who has been out injured, and Alex Hughes takes the captaincy role again.
Derbyshire Falcons: Alex Hughes (c), Neil Broom, Andy Carter, Ben Cotton, Matt Critchley, Billy Godleman, Chesney Hughes, Wayne Madsen, Jimmy Neesham, Tom Poynton (wk), Hamish Rutherford, Ben Slater, Shiv Thakor.
The visitors are boosted by the availability of Chris Woakes for this fixture. They will also be sporting former Falcon, Rikki Clarke, in their ranks.
Birmingham Bears: Ian Bell (c), Mark Adair, Rikki Clarke, Laurie Evans, Recordo Gordon, Sam Hain, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Ateeq Javid, Jeetan Patel, Josh Poysden, Luke Ronchi (wk), Aaron Thomason, Chris Woakes
Derbyshire Falcons: WLW
Birmingham Bears: WLW
Weather and conditions
It’s been a dark and soggy week in the East Midlands and tomorrow is not looking much better. At this point, the forecast has the rain stopping at 8pm so we could have a reduced match.
Date: Friday 17th June
Ground: The 3AAA County Ground at Derby
Umpires: Michael Gough & Martin Saggers
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire Falcons 6/5, Birmingham Bears 4/6