Edgbaston will host a crucial match in this year’s blast, with Birmingham and Lancashire aiming to cement their place in the top four as the competition approaches the business end. Lancashire currently sit in third position, thanks to a superior run rate, while Derbyshire (4th) and Birmingham (5th) sit on nine points from eight games.
Only four points separate the top seven teams in the North Group and with so many matches affected by the weather recently, one win could prove decisive.
The Lightning have played some excellent cricket so far, but have found their momentum disrupted by the weather. Lancashire have benefitted from the availability of Jos Buttler and the increased form of Liam Livingstone. Two outright abandonments and a rain-affected tie against Yorkshire have been intertwined with three wins and two losses.
Birmingham started well with two wins against Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire. But three losses from the next three threatened to continue their so far dismal season. However, selecting second team players Alex Mellor and Ed Pollock has seen the Bears win their last two matches, and maintain hope of making the knockout stage.
Both teams will be raring to go after suffering washouts on Friday night.
Birmingham’s top order has a different look, with Ed Pollock coming into the side, but another youngster who has been a mainstay for the Bears is Sam Hain. The 22-year-old only has one fifty so far, but is the leading run scorer for his side. He certainly prospers against the white ball and will be crucial for his side once more.
With Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone, and Junaid Khan in Lancashire’s ranks; it would be easy to forget about the importance of Stephen Parry. There was potentially a danger of a drop in form in this year’s blast from the left-armer, as he has played in all competitions for his county as opposed to just the white ball formats. But the 31-year-old has maintained his excellent record in the competition and had impressive figures of 4-0-27-2 in Derbyshire innings of 211-5 on Tuesday night.
The Bears are set to continue with the team that has won their last two matches. Ed Pollock will look to build on his debut fifty against Derbyshire, with either Sam Hain or Ian Bell opening with the youngster. Overseas signing Colin de Grandhomme has found his feet after a difficult start to the blast and new signing Adam Hose is set to make his debut after Friday’s washout.
Birmingham XI (likely): Ed Pollock, Ian Bell*, Sam Hain, Grant Elliot, Adam Hose, Alex Mellor (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Aaron Thomason, Keith Barker, Jeetan Patel, Boyd Rankin
The Lightning haven’t made many changes so far and will likely select the same side once more. Liam Livingstone has started to prosper in his role at the top of the order, as has Karl Brown. Jos Buttler is the star man for the lighting and all-rounder McLaren, Clark, and Lilley provide a lot of depth.
Lancashire XI (likely): Karl Brown, Liam Livingstone, Arron Lilley, Jos Buttler (wk), Dane Vilas, Steven Croft*, Ryan McLaren, Jordan Clark, Stephen Parry, Junaid Khan, Matthew Parkinson
Birmingham – AWWLL
Lancashire – ALWAW
Weather & Conditions:
Thundery showers are forecast for Sunday’s match but they could easily miss Edgbaston. Scores have been quite modest so far, with the Bears’ score of 197-4 against Derbyshire comfortably the highest.
Date: 30th July.
Odds (Bet365): Birmingham 10/11 Lancashire 10/11