Reigning champions Worcestershire return to Edgbaston to defend their title. As one of three teams from the North group to progress, they will be hoping to showcase the talent that won them the title 12 months ago.
The only team from the 2018 quartet to progress to the same stage in this year’s competition, Worcestershire have been a dominant force throughout, with a significant amount of talent in their ranks. Undoubtedly Moeen Ali’s return was a huge boost to the side and Pat Brown, Ed Barnard and Rikki Wessels stand out as key players.
With Brett D’oliveria and Wayne Parnell likely to return to the side for the momentous occasion, it seems they will showcase a full strength team to try and hold on to the title.
The Rapids will take on Nottinghamshire Outlaws in the first of the two semi finals on the day and will be feeling positive ahead of the clash looking at previous results. In the group stages Worcestershire beat Notts at Trent Bridge, while the return contest at Worcester was abandoned without a ball bowled.
No doubt the side are raring to go ahead of their second consecutive Finals Day appearance and, even though a rivalry may be in place with Warwickshire, there will be nothing but joy as they head to Edgbaston.
Road to Finals Day
Strengthened by the return of Moeen Ali midway through their campaign after he was dropped by England Worcestershire finished fourth in the North group, after winning six of the 14 games, with three no results and five losses.
Being drawn in an away quarter-final at Sussex, they were seen as the underdogs going into that game because Sussex finished at the top of the South group after a very strong campaign. However, Moeen Ali smashed his highest T20 score of 120, ensuring the Rapids chased down Sussex’s respectable 184 with ease, just two wickets down, to claim their place at Finals Day.
Is there a more wonderful sight, amongst the speed and frenzy of T20 cricket, than the serenity and grace of Moeen Ali in full flow? Well, perhaps there is but it’s hard to deny that the man is a joy to watch, and once again he has been the centre of Worcestershire’s Blast campaign. Returning midway through the campaign, he led the way for the Rapids once again. If any one man is key for Saturday’s title defence, surely it is he.
When Worcestershire signed Riki Wessels from Saturday’s semifinal opponents Nottinghamshire just under a year ago, it must have seemed a real coup for them to have nabbed such an experienced player. And it seems it was indeed a good move. Wessels has continued to show his class for his new side, averaging in the late 30s, and is a formidable presence at the top of the order.
All rounder Ed Barnard and rising star Pat Brown have also had excellent seasons and should be useful on Saturday, as should Wayne Parnell who looks to be returning for the big day after being laid low with a nasty viral infection.
Finals Day record
It may not be the shortest story in the Finals Day annals, but it’s still pretty short. For years, Worcestershire were one of only two sides to never make it to Edgbaston. Last year, they turned their story around and with a bang – not only did they qualify for their first ever visit to the biggest event in the county cricket calendar, they walked away Champions.
Worcestershire’s overseas player Martin Guptill was injured playing for New Zealand against Sri Lanka and his availability as of early September was unknown, so it is unlikely he will appear on Saturday. Hamish Rutherford, also a Kiwi, was called away from New Road to play a T20I for his home country, but is back in the country and appearing in the SSCC this week. It’s possible we’ll see him in the top order on Saturday.
Wayne Parnell and Brett D’Oliviera look ready to return to the side, and of course we can expect to see Moeen and Wessels, alongside Barnard, Brown, Charlie Morris and Daryl Mitchell.