Birmingham Bears and Derbyshire Falcons face off at Edgbaston in the Vitality T20 Blast tomorrow night, as they both look to continue their strong starts in the competition. The Bears currently sit second in the North Group table with three points from their first two games, whilst the Falcons are in fourth, having won their only game.
Derbyshire are yet to reach a T20 Final since the competition began in 2004 but, if an impressive five wicket win against Yorkshire can be backed up by victory at Edgbaston, their fans will be forgiven for dreaming of September success. Billy Godleman was the star on Saturday after hitting 70 not out and he may be key again if Derbyshire are to be effective with the bat.
Birmingham Bears, meanwhile, seem to have hit the nail on the head with their bowling attack this year, particularly if overseas recruits Fidel Edwards and Ashton Agar can replicate their performances against Leicestershire on Sunday on a consistent basis. With their opener against Worcestershire being a complete washout, we are yet to see any explosions with the bat from the Bears this season and whether or not the absence of Ian Bell will damage their campaign to win their second lot of T20 silverware.
Last year, Derbyshire won the only T20 clash between the two by 16 runs ending a run of three consecutive defeats to the Bears in the competition, dating back to 2014.
For Birmingham Bears, it is difficult to look beyond Fidel Edwards after what he produced against Leicestershire. There are very few men in world cricket who can reduce a side to 2-3, to effectively deciding the game in the first over. If his overall figures of 4-22 are close to being replicated then Derbyshire will do extremely well to win the game.
Darren Stevens may seem a risky choice to be a key man when he is 43 years old, but he can be extremely effective in tying down a batting order and picking up wickets due to impatience. We have seen some low scores at grounds where the World Cup was played, and if it is a slow pitch then the man on loan from Kent could hold all the right playing cards. Plus, with the announcement that he is to leave his parent club at the end of the season, he has a point to prove.
Birmingham Bears name an unchanged squad and it will be a surprise if they don’t name an unchanged team.
Birmingham Bears squad: Jeetan Patel (c), Ashton Agar, Liam Banks, Michael Burgess (wk), Sam Hain, Adam Hose, Ed Pollock, Will Rhodes, Dom Sibley, Alex Thomson, James Wainman
There is one change to the Derbyshire Falcons squad from the one they named for the Yorkshire game, with Harvey Hosein the man to miss out. Given that he did not start the match at Chesterfield, it is also likely to be an unchanged team.
Derbyshire Falcons squad: Billy Godleman (c), Matt Critchley, Leus De Plooy, Harvey Hosein, Fynn Hudson-Prentice, Alex Hughes, Tom Lace, Wayne Madsen, Ravi Rampaul, Luis Reece, Daryn Smit (wk), Darren Stevens, Logan Van Beek, Mark Watt
Weather and Conditions:
The forecast says it’s going to be a very hot day in Birmingham, so expect a full game.
Date: 24thJuly 2019
Odds (SkyBet): Birmingham 8/13, Derbyshire 5/4