It’s that time of year again, the big showpiece occasion of the county cricket calendar that is Vitality Blast Finals Day.
The four counties who have made it this far, Lancashire, Worcestershire, Sussex and Somerset are all preparing to descend on Edgbaston and thoughts are turning to who will clinch the title.
With that in mind, we asked some of our writers to stick their necks out and tell us who they think will succeed Notts Outlaws as T20 champions.
Semi-final one: Worcestershire Rapids v Lancashire Lightning – I’m going to go with Lancashire here. Worcestershire’s run has been fantastic but I think Lancashire’s spinners might be the difference. Buttler and Livingstone could produce some fireworks at the top of the order as well.
Semi-final two: Sussex Sharks v Somerset – I’ve gone back and forth on this one but I have a feeling Somerset will edge it. Sussex might have the slightly better bowling attack but they’ll miss Rashid Khan. Also Somerset bat a lot deeper. Sussex rely too much on their top four whereas Somerset have Lewis Gregory, who is having an incredible tournament, coming in at seven.
Final: Lancashire Lightning v Somerset – Somerset winning is the fairytale story as they have probably been the best team in the tournament overall but I think it could be the Lightning’s year as it was in 2015. Of course it will all be about who performs on the night, but again I think it will be Lancashire’s spinners who make the difference.
Lancashire are going to prove a big challenge for Worcestershire in the first semi final, probably too much of a challenge.
Sussex have got a very strong squad which I see able to beat Somerset
In the final Lancashire will continue their strength and take the title over Sussex.
Worcestershire’s ability to win close matches will decide this match. Lancashire have a near-perfect T20 side on paper but their inability to get over the line will come back to haunt them against a tight Worcestershire unit.
I back Somerset to find a way to squeeze past a very talented Sussex outfit through so many options with bat and ball. Should be a real cracker, game to be decided on one single moment.
Somerset to discard past finals day heartbreaks and end a 13-year wait to add a second T20 title – they’ve waited long enough!
Lancashire Lightning may just have more experience of playing at Finals Day than the Rapids who will be there for the first time.
Sussex Sharks look to have a powerful all-round bowling attack that may be too much for Somerset.
If it does turn out to be Sharks v Lightning, it will be a great final. I tip Sussex Sharks to out-bowl the Lancashire team and take the trophy.
My heart says Worcestershire and Somerset will win the semi-finals, my head says Lancashire and Sussex.
Of those two in the final, Sussex should emerge victorious.
Sussex are very bowler heavy, Archer, Mills and Wiese are quality T20 bowlers, but only Luke Wright is a big name proven T20 batsman. Evans and Delray Rawlings have impressed me this year, but I expect Somerset to chase almost anything they score. Somerset have more all-round talent and much more batting depth.
I’m backing a Lancashire Somerset final. Lancashire are a proven T20 outfit, Worcestershire will rely on Moeen Ali massively and the lack of an overseas could be a big problem.
In the final, Somerset should take it!
Worcestershire v Lancashire – Lancashire have done well, but I think they will be outgunned by strong opposition batting and miserly bowling. Though if Livingstone fires, it could be a different story.
Sussex v Somerset – the absence of Rashid Khan is key. Good Sussex seam attack, but Somerset bat deep and have bowling variety. They will edge this one.
Worcestershire v Somerset in the final then. I said after the first three rounds that Somerset looked a strong side. I think Somerset have enough to take the trophy to Taunton. Any game hinges on one special performance though!
Who wins in T20 so often hinges on individual players firing. If Jos Buttler or Liam Livingstone can sparkle at the top of the order, Lancashire could have a little too much for Worcestershire – even though Moeen could fire too.
Somerset have been mighty and a Sussex without Rashid Khan may well come up slightly short.
It should be a tight final if it is Lancashire against Somerset, but the Taunton side have been so strong, it could be their year.
Somerset wins: Four
Lancashire wins: Two
Sussex wins: Two
Worcestershire wins: None