Worcestershire Rapids arrive in Derby having played two and won two. They’ve scored over 190 runs in each innings they have batted, once chasing and once setting a total.
This early-competition form leaves them sitting on top of the North Group and feeling pretty good about their T20 cricket so far this season. Derbyshire Falcons however have played one and lost one, although with the nature of the defeat to Lancashire they may feel like they have lost more than the one game. They find themselves at the bottom of the North group with a net run rate of minus 3.92 and, while it is early days they will want to rectify this situation very quickly.
The Rapids have found run-scoring easy so far this season in the Vitality T20 Blast, helped in no uncertain terms by the big-hitting overseas signings of Martin Guptill and Callum Ferguson. Both have the ability to take the game away from opposition and take it away quickly. They both bat in the top three and the powerplay is their friend. Both have so far made good use of the fielding restrictions, scoring a combined 150 runs off 121 balls. If Derbyshire are to slow down the Rapids on Sunday, then returning Guptill and Ferguson to the dugout quickly is key.
They say when you fall of a bike it is best to get back on quickly and the Derbyshire Falcons didn’t just fall off the bike vs Lancashire on Friday night, they rode it into a wall, fell off, landed on their heads and then had the wall fall down on top of them.
Thankfully for them they have the chance to get back on the bike just two days later and will be hoping to put Friday’s result behind them. Derbyshire will be looking for more fluency in their batting, as it looked laboured against some tight bowling, and more threat from their bowlers, who all leaked runs all around the park and only took a wicket when the scores were level. They may well make changes to their side in search of variation in their attack, as the attack is very one paced, albeit very quick, but it did not offer threat with it.
The bookies make Worcestershire favourites and it is easy to see why, they are on form, scoring runs and full of confidence. Derbyshire are on the back of a drubbing and did not perform well at all in their only match so far. If this game goes to form, the Rapids could secure their third victory and cement their place at the top of the North group.
In the last game Derbyshire were 35-2 at the end of the powerplay and if you are to compete in modern T20 cricket, this simply cannot happen. This was, in some way down to the loss of Ben Slater, run out in the first over. Slater has been in fine form in all formats for the Derbyshire side this year, adding real impetus to the innings, especially in the white-ball game. He scores quickly and elegantly and if he gets in can put Derbyshire in a commanding position in those first six overs. If Slater doesn’t fall early then the chances of Derbyshire to set or chase a big score are greatly increased.
Every side loves be able to pick a quality all-rounder in their side, someone who adds quality with bat and ball, and with Ed Barnard the Worcestershire Rapids are able to do that. Barnard bowls a quick and lively pace and usually comes on first change. He has taken four wickets for the Rapids this season in T20 cricket and will be looking to add to those on Sunday. Barnard can also contribute runs lower down the order too, although he got a first ball duck in his only visit to the crease in the Blast so far this season, this is the exception and not the norm. If Barnard fires with bat and or ball then the Rapids will be very happy and be moving closer to the third victory of the season.
Derbyshire have named an unchanged 14-man squad for their second fixture in three days. Following the heavy defeat last time out there may be some changes to the bowling attack, with skipper Wilson potentially looking for some more variety at his disposal. I would expect one of Dal or McKiernan to come in for Viljoen who went around the park on Friday night, both of whom will offer Wilson something different. They may also give Scotland international Sharif his first T20 start as they look to stem the flow of runs that flew against Lancashire.
Derbyshire Falcons squad: Gary Wilson (c), Matt Critchley, Anuj Dal, Lockie Ferguson, Alex Hughes, Matt McKiernan, Calum MacLeod, Wayne Madsen, Ravi Rampaul, Wahab Riaz, Safyaan Sharif, Ben Slater, Daryn Smit (wk), Hardus Viljoen
Following two victories it would be a surprise if Worcestershire squad that arrives in Derby tomorrow is not the same one that vanquished both Lancashire and Birmingham already this week. Once again they will be looking for runs at the top of the order from the big-hitting Kiwi international Martin Guptill along with ex-Derbyshire player Ross Whiteley. If you are watching on Sunday also keep your eye on Joe Clarke who is knocking on the door of the England set up and is a delight to watch at the crease. In the bowling department however Worcestershire are in a bit of a hole with injuries to several bowlers in their squad, they have moved to fill this hole though with the signing of Luke Wood on loan from Nottinghamshire and another ex-Falcon Andy Carter.
Worcestershire Rapids squad: TBA
Derbyshire Falcons: L
Worcestershire Rapids: WW
Weather and Conditions
In the words of the 1988 hit by The Merrymen, if you come to watch at Derby on Sunday you’ll be “Feeling hot hot hot” with sunshine and temperatures of 28 degrees forecast throughout the afternoon. The pitch for the last match was quick, and Lancashire found run scoring easy, so if it looks the same again expect runs. They could well be using the same pitch again, so it may be a little more tired, so slow bowlers especially with the current weather may well enjoy a dry and waring pitch.
Date: 8th July 2018
Ground: 3aaa County Ground, Derby
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire Falcons 11/10 Worcestershire Rapids 8/11