Derbyshire face a mid-week visit to the picturesque New Road, looking to maintain the positive start made to this year’s blast campaign. The Falcons, who have not made the quarter-finals since 2005, are currently two points off the top of the table, with a game in hand over the four teams above them.
Indeed, there is still a mountain of T20 cricket to be played; but it is a great start for a side who are so regularly playing catch-up in the competition.
The Falcons surprised everyone during the first round of matches, where they beat reigning champions Northants in what turned out to be a comfortable chase of 180. An equally impressive win came against rivals Yorkshire in front of a boisterous crowd at Chesterfield, as the cricket festival at the lovely Queen’s Park came to a close.
Worcestershire, on the other hand, are playing catch-up for the first time this season after two losses from two so far. The Rapids sit second in the Championship and look well placed for promotion from Division Two.
A Lords final would have been a welcome reward for a strong RLODC campaign, only to be beaten by a strong Surrey outfit. The ugly exit of Tom Kohler-Cadmore threatened to disrupt Worcester’s momentum, as they suffered two successive innings defeats in the Championship.
The consequences of Kohler-Cadmore’s departure will be felt more so in the Blast than any other competition. The 22-year-old struck the fastest century of last year’s campaign (127 off 54 balls) against Durham. Worcester’s youngsters keep coming, however, and Joe Clarke has moved from his regular number three position to open with Daryl Mitchell.
The talented Joe Clarke should fill the shoes of Kohler-Cadmore but more of Worcestershire’s raw talent lies in the middle order. Ben Cox has had an excellent start to the blast with the bat with scores of 43 (27) and 51 (36); and is one of the most exciting glovemen in the country. His side will be relying on him for a strong finish to the innings once more after only setting targets of 153 and 149 during the first two matches.
Imran Tahir’s threat to the opposition is so great that his four overs have to be managed expertly. The leg-spinner is a proven match winner, shown by his 3-18 against Yorkshire. More so, he will surely pass his vast knowledge and experience onto Matt Critchley and Hamidullah Qadri.
18-year-old Pat Brown has earned a first senior call-up following Josh Tongue’s inclusion in the England Under-19 squad. The Rapids have named the same XI for their two matches so far and are likely to again. Overseas all-rounders Hastings and Santner are canny signings and are vital to the Rapids success.
Worcestershire Squad: Joe Leach (c), Ed Barnard, Pat Brown, Joe Clarke, Ben Cox (wk), Brett D’Oliveira, John Hastings, Alex Hepburn, Daryl Mitchell, George Rhodes, Mitchell Santner, Jack Shantry, Ross Whiteley.
Derbyshire have a similar blend of youth, experience, and overseas players in their line-up. Matt Henry, Imran Tahir, and Hardus Viljeon form the backbone of the bowling attack and Wayne Madsen is the star batsman for the Falcons. 16-year-old Hamidullah Qadri was given his first T20 cap against Lancashire after his sensational Championship debut, but only bowled one over.
Derbyshire Squad: TBA.
Weather and Conditions:
Worcestershire’s two first innings scores of 152-9 and 148-8 are not reflective of the high-scoring nature of New Road. Both sides will be hoping to go higher and the continued warm weather should fuel the flow of runs. There is a threat of thunderstorms in the lead up to the match and during but their scattered nature means they could easily pass by.
Date: 19th July.
Ground: New Road.
Odds (SkyBet): Worcestershire 4/5 Derbyshire 1/1