The North Group is starting to take shape after six rounds of matches. Nottinghamshire are currently third from bottom but have every chance of climbing the table, with two games in hand of those above them. Worcestershire, who sit one place below Notts, are winless from five games and already face an uphill battle to make the quarter finals.
The Outlaws were unable to take their white-ball form from the RLODC immediately into the blast, losing their first two matches, but have bounced back well to win two on the bounce. Riki Wessels’ century against Derbyshire in a score of 227-3 the highlight so far – the first by a Notts’ player in the competition’s 15th year.
Ross Whiteley joined an elite club in the Worcestershire’s last match when he became only the sixth player in history to record six sixes in an over. It has been the sole highlight of Worcester’s blast campaign so far as their single point came from a washout against Lancashire.
The Rapids solved their initial problem of lack of runs by hitting a sizeable score of 186-5 last week against Derbyshire. Nevertheless, the Falcons cruised to victory at New Road and the bowling attack showed further weakness by conceding 233-6 in their next match against Yorkshire.
Nottinghamshire’s excellent season so far has been disrupted by the unfortunate injury to Luke Fletcher, although all at Trent Bridge will be relieved to see Fletcher doing well, even if it is not on a cricket field. The premature retirements of Michael Lumb and Greg Smith is untimely, given their service to the club, and the uncertain future of Brendan Taylor is another unwelcome distraction.
There is enough experience at Trent Bridge to see them through a potentially difficult period and they will be confident of another trip to Finals Day.
Samit Patel has had a slow start to the blast with fifty against Birmingham his only notable performance thus far. Still, as a powerful batsman he remains they key man for the Outlaws. Furthermore, his four overs of spin are crucial to restricting the opposition’s run rate.
Ross Whiteley sent a timely reminder of his six hitting ability to the England selectors last match, and the Rapids will need all his ability to climb the table in time to make the quarter finals.
Notts still boast a powerful line-up even without Lumb and Fletcher. Fan favourite Dan Christian and dynamic leg-spinner Ish Sodhi are shrewd overseas singings. Jake Ball’s return from injury is a welcome return; as is an extended period in county cricket for Alex Hales.
Nottinghamshire Squad (likely): Alex Hales, Riki Wessels, Samit Patel, Brendan Taylor, Dan Christian (c), Steven Mullaney, Tom Moores (wk), Luke Wood, Ish Sodhi, Jake Ball, Harry Gurney
Worcestershire have the players to succeed in the competition, but have not yet found the winning formula. Joe Clarke has prospered in his role as opener, and has found viable support in Cox and Whiteley. The Rapids may expect more from overseas signings Hastings and Santner. Joe Leach is yet to find his feet as a captain in the blast, the experiment of promoting himself in a pinch-hitting role not really proving successful.
Worcestershire Squad: Daryl Mitchell, Joe Clarke, Brett D’Oliveira, Ben Cox (wk), Mitchell Santner, Ross Whiteley, John Hastings, Joe Leach (c), George Rhodes, Jack Shantry
Weather & Conditions
Heavy rain is forecast for the daytime but should be clear to leave a sunny evening. The ground’s excellent drainage means there is still a strong chance for a full game. Two first-innings scores of 227 and 195 is in-keeping with the high-scoring nature of Trent Bridge and this match should be no different.
Date: 26th July.
Ground: Trent Bridge.
Odds (SkyBet): Notts 1/2 Worcester 13/8