Vitality Blast Preview: Birmingham Bears v Leicestershire Foxes

Vitality Blast Preview: Birmingham Bears v Leicestershire Foxes

Ed Pollock. Pic via Birmingham Bears YouTube, with thanks

 

It’s early stages in the Vitality Blast so positions in the table don’t mean too much.  The Birmingham Bears have won two of their three matches so far whereas the Foxes have won just one out of three.

On Sunday, the Bears won their first Blast home game of the season.  They comprehensively beat Yorkshire Vikings by eight wickets, thanks to a 14-ball 39 from Ed Pollock and a well-paced stand between Ian Bell and Adam Hose.  Pollock now has a career T20 strike rate of 191.05.

With the ball, Oliver Hannon-Dalby and young Henry Brookes have taken 11 wickets between them. Maybe Jeetan Patel hasn’t quite come to the wicket-taking party yet but he is still pretty economical.

First-team coach Jim Troughton thinks that there is even better to come for the Bears.  “I still think we are letting some runs slip in the field so we need to sharpen up a little bit there,” he says.

Leicestershire will be concerned that they have only managed one 50 so far in three games.  Mark Cosgrove and recently capped Ben Raine, in particular, have underperformed with the bat so far.

Zak Chappell with six wickets and a 7.50 strike rate leads the way for the Foxes in the field.  But they have only  three bowlers whose strike rates are below ten per over whereas the Bears have six.

Overall, the Bears will be strong favourites to win but with the so-called glorious uncertainty inherent in this shortest form of the game, who knows?

Key Men

For Birmingham, it is difficult to look beyond Ed Pollock as their key man.  He virtually won the match against the Vikings in the first over of the Bears’ innings, at the end of which they were 33-0.  He will no doubt fail at least as often as he succeeds; but when he does come off, he can turn a game in minutes as well as thrilling the crowd.

Leicestershire have in Mark Cosgrove someone who, like Pollock, can score rapid runs.  So far, he has underperformed in this year’s Blast but he has quite often made runs against the Bears in the past so maybe he will deliver on Friday evening.

Team News 

Birmingham may well field an unchanged side.  It was a real bonus for them when Dom Sibley came into the team against Yorkshire and bowled four overs of testing leg spin.  He could well be the Bears’ version of Joe Denly; and he certainly gives skipper Grant Elliott an extra option.

Olly Stone would add pace to the attack but he hasn’t played for a month now and his recovery from injury has been slower than was hoped for.

Possible Birmingham squad: Tim Ambrose (wicket keeper), Ian Bell, Henry Brookes, Colin de Grandhomme, Grant Elliott (captain), Sam Hain, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Adam Hose, Jeetan Patel, Ed Pollock, Josh Poysden, Boyd Rankin, Dom Sibley, Will Rhodes

Leicestershire have fielded the same team in each of their three games and may do the same again.  However, Ned Eckersley, Gavin Griffiths and Rob Sayer are also in the squad.

Leicestershire squad: Colin Ackermann (capt), Mohammad Abbas, Zak Chappell, Mark Cosgrove, Cameron Delport, Neil Dexter, Ned Eckersley, Gavin Griffiths, Lewis Hill, Mohammad Nabi, Callum Parkinson, Ben Raine, Rob Sayer, Tom Wells.

Form this season

Birmingham WLW

Leicestershire: LLW

Weather and conditions

There’s just a chance of showers arriving at precisely the wrong time on Friday evening.  Hopefully, they will miss the Edgbaston ground where groundsman Gary Barwell has no doubt prepared another good pitch offering plenty of runs.

Date: 13 July 2018

Time: 7.00 pm

Ground: Stadium Edgbaston

Odds (SkyBet): Birmingham 4/6; Leicestershire 6/5

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