Worcestershire arrive in Derby on Friday for the last round of Natwest T20 Blast matches knowing no matter what the outcome, they will finish in eighth place in the North Group and cap off what will have been a disappointing season for them in the shortest format of the game.
Derbyshire, however, find themselves in unusual territory. They know that a win will guarantee them a quarter final place for the first time since 2005 and, unless Birmingham (it never feels right calling them that) or Leicestershire win by a massive margin, a home one at that.
Should they draw or be rained off a point may also be enough for Derbyshire, however this will then leave them looking at other results around the grounds to see if any sides or the weather have done them favours.
Both sides are coming off the back of losses and will want to finish the group stages on a high, Worcestershire for pride and Derbyshire to secure a place in the knockout stages. Derbyshire lost last night to the Leicestershire Foxes in a low scoring game and will be hoping their batting line up can fire against the Rapids.
Worcestershire lost last time to Lancashire, again in a low scoring game they never looked like winning, and will be looking to be far more competitive when visiting Derby. Derbyshire have only lost once at home this season and will be hoping to keep that record intact.
The bookies make Derbyshire favourites and it’s easy to see why, they have an excellent record and Worcestershire do not. However, all the pressure is on Derbyshire and none is on their visitors and pressure can do funny things in cricket.
I would imagine most of the Derbyshire fans will be watching this game through their fingers, but only when they aren’t biting their nails. It may all be academic, though, as the weather may be the ultimate winner if the forecast is to be believed.
If you have more strings to your bow in modern day cricket then you are a very attractive player in the coach’s eyes, and in Matt Critchley that is exactly what Derbyshire have.
Elevated this season to open the batting, due to his ability to strike the ball cleanly and clear the ropes, he has been a success. Throw in his ability to bowl leg spin effectively, having spent time learning from Shane Warne, Jeevan Mendis and lastly Imran Tahir, and you’ll see why his bowling has come on leaps and bounds. He can keep it tight whilst taking wickets.
Finally add his superb fielding and it is clear to see why Critchley’s success is key to Derbyshire’s.
Who doesn’t love a six being hit? Apart from the bowler, of course, and in T20 cricket the Rapids have one of the best in Ross Whiteley: when Whiteley fires, they show themselves to be a side that can score big runs. The pinnacle of Whiteley’s powers were shown earlier in the campaign when he achieved the dream of six sixes in an over, off Karl Karver against Yorkshire. If he can do something similar against his old side, then their chances of upsetting the Falcons will be greatly enhanced.
Derbyshire will again be without T20 skipper Gary Wilson, who is away on international duty with Ireland, so Daryn Smit will again take on the role of understudy. Derbyshire are yet to announce their squad, however I would anticipate an unchanged squad and side from the one that played vs Leicestershire, and throughout the majority of campaign.
Worcestershire are also yet to announce their squad, but suffered no injuries in their previous game, so I envisage the squad being very similar to last time out. Now qualification is beyond them they have chosen to play their youngsters and, if you are down at the game, keep an eye out for young paceman Josh Tongue. He has genuine pace and a great future in the game.
Derbyshire Falcons squad: TBA
Worcestershire Rapids squad: TBA
Derbyshire Falcons: LWLWWA
Worcestershire Rapids: LLLLWW
Weather and conditions
The current forecast for Derby shows rain for the duration of the match, so if they do get any cricket then Duckworth and Lewis may well be required. The last game at Derby produced a low scoring match. Prior to this, though, Derby has seen high scoring games and batsmen really enjoying themselves.
Having been better weather around in the area in the last few days, the groundsman will have had more preparation time and hopefully, if the precipitation stays away, we will see a return to pitches more akin to run scoring.
Date: 18th August 2017
Ground: 3aaa County Ground, Derby
Umpires: TBC and TBC
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire Falcons 4/6 Worcestershire Rapids 6/5