Fresh from their victorious Royal London One-Day Cup campaign, Nottinghamshire begin their quest for a limited-overs double with a trip to Headingley to face Yorkshire.
The season couldn’t have gone much better so far for the Outlaws. Unbeaten in Division Two of the County Championship and having stormed to the Royal London crown, they enter the Blast full of confidence.
It’s a meeting between last season’s beaten semi-finalists. Notts topped the North Group with eight wins from their 14 games before defeating Essex in the quarter-finals. But their title tilt was ended by eventual champions Northants.
Yorkshire meanwhile were denied their first T20 title by Durham, losing a tight semi-final at Edgbaston. This season hasn’t gone quite as well for the White Rose as it might have done.
Their bid to regain the Championship title they won in 2014 & 2015 stalled further this week, with a surprise defeat against Somerset at Scarborough while they suffered a quarter final exit at the hands of Surrey in the One-Day Cup.
The Blast, therefore, potentially offers the Vikings an opportunity to spark their season into life.
But Andrew Gale’s side will be aware of the threat that is posed by their buoyant opponents on Friday night. Like Yorkshire, Notts have never lifted the T20 title despite the raft of limited-overs talent that has passed through their ranks since the tournament began in 2003.
Opener Michael Lumb, a former Yorkshire player, believes this squad has what it takes to finally end their drought.
“We have got a very tight group and if we can produce the skills at the right time, we can go that bit further than we have before,” Lumb told the club website.
“Winning the Blast is definitely a challenge for us because we have the squad capable of doing it, but for whatever reason, we haven’t been able to do it while I’ve been here.
“The winning momentum we have built up in one-day cricket can help us. We’ve had a little bit of a rest and hopefully that can help us do the business in the matches to come.”
Tim Bresnan is always an important figure for Yorkshire, as a key cog in their side in all formats with both bat and ball. His batting has particularly improved in recent years and he’s now considered a genuine all-rounder for the Headingley outfit. But he has extra responsibility on his shoulders in this competition as he stands in as skipper for Gary Ballance while the batsman is away on England duty.
Samit Patel is in the form of his life. His last two Championship matches have yielded totals of 257* and 247. Add to that his unbeaten 122 in the One-Day Cup semi against Essex and he’s in great touch with the bat. Patel always offers something with the ball as well, especially in white-ball cricket, and his left-arm spin will certainly be in evidence at Headingley.
Australians Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb are Yorkshire’s two overseas stars while Adil Rashid is available to lead the spin attack, after being omitted from England’s Test plans.
Yorkshire Vikings: Tim Bresnan (c), Ben Coad, Matthew Fisher, Peter Handscomb, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Jack Leaning, Adam Lyth, Shaun Marsh, Steven Patterson, Liam Plunkett, Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Matthew Waite, David Willey
Alex Hales leads the Nottinghamshire ranks with the bat after his 187* in the Royal London One-Day Cup final, while New Zealander Ish Sodhi and Australian Dan Christian are the overseas options.
Nottinghamshire Outlaws: Dan Christian (c), Luke Fletcher, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Brett Hutton, Michael Lumb, Tom Moores, Steven Mullaney, Samit Patel, Billy Root, Ish Sodhi, Riki Wessels, Luke Wood
Weather and Conditions
It’s set fair for Headingley on Friday night with clear skies for the Blast opener. Conditions are generally good to bat in and both sides should make the most of a decent surface.
Date: July 7th 2017
Umpires: Steve O’Shaughnessy & Neil Mallender
Odds (SkyBet): Yorkshire 4/5, Nottinghamshire 1/1