Reigning champions Worcestershire will be relishing the chance to play on their home ground after rain has restricted its use, while Birmingham Bears will be hoping to start their campaign in the best way possible – with an away win against their home rivals.
This local derby is one of the most eagerly-anticipated fixtures for the both sides, who will be trying to get white-ball success this season after being two of the most exciting short-format sides of recent years.
With Worcester storming the competition last year, hopes will be set on them continuing that strong form. They got off to a great start with a comprehensive win at Trent Bridge against Nottinghamshire on Thursday.
The Bears, who haven’t had much success in the Blast since winning the competition in 2015, will use the opportunity to start their tournament on the right foot.
Both sides have many strengths. For the Rapids, Pat Brown stands out. The 20 year-old fast bowler, who has masses of potential, helped to guide Worcestershire to their title last year. While Birmingham have their veteran off-spinner, Jeetan Patel, and with it being no secret how crucial spinners are in T20 cricket, he will be key to their success in this upcoming season.
Martin Guptill comes off the back of the World Cup final disappointment for New Zealand, both for himself after a quiet competition, and for the team who narrowly missed out on victory. However, there is no doubt he is a world class white-ball player, and his presence at the top of the order will be vital to the Rapids in the game to put pressure on Bears’ bowlers.
It will be a battle of the overseas from the Southern Hemisphere as Ashton Agar will go out to prove himself as the Bears overseas. The second spinner in Birmingham’s side will use the wealth of knowledge and talent he picked up whilst playing for the Big Bash franchise, Perth Scorchers to steer the Bears to victory.
No surprises looking to come out from either teams, with both overseas yet to make appearances. Sam Hain returns from England Lions duty and Stone should also be available for the Bears.
Worcestershire are likely to be unchanged from their win at Trent Bridge.
Birmingham Bears: LWLWW
Worcestershire Rapids: WWWWL
Weather and Conditions
After a World Cup being heavily affected by rain in its initial stages, the same might be said for the Blast as the forecast says there might be some rain that will hang around all day. The last thing Worcester needs is more rain…
Date: 19th July 2019
Ground: New Road, Worcestershire County Cricket Club
Odds: Rapids 4/5, Bears 11/10