The early pacesetters in the Vitality Blast Central Group meet at Wantage Road on Tuesday evening. Northants have made an excellent start to their campaign, having thrashed Worcestershire on Saturday, and having come through a tight match against Somerset in their first home game.
The Bears saw their opening fixture against Somerset washed out, before a dominant performance in Cardiff against Glamorgan saw them win comfortably in their last outing on Sunday.
Despite the adjustment in the groups for the Blast this summer these are familiar opponents, having faced each other in every season since T20 started in 2003. Northants did the double over the Bears in 2019, winning on the Duckworth Lewis method at Wantage Road, while the fixture at Edgbaston went right down to the final over with the Steelbacks winning with just two balls remaining.
With the number of group matches reduced for this summer, getting off to a good start will be vital and the winner of this match up will put themselves in a good position in the early Central Group table.
Having impressed in Ireland’s victory over England in the third ODI many Northants supporters were delighted to see Paul Stirling signed up for the duration of this competition. The former Middlesex man struck an unbeaten 80 from just 48 balls on his debut for the Steelbacks against Worcestershire on Saturday. He also took 2-26 from his 4 overs. With the pitch likely to be a used surface his off spin could come into play.
Whenever a Birmingham Bears side takes the field for a T20 Blast match, eyes are often turned to Ed Pollock. He burst onto the scene during the 2017 season when he helped the Bears reach Finals Day. He didn’t have his best year in 2019, but made two fifties in the final two matches against Durham & Yorkshire. Pollock made runs in the Bears’ warm up games and, although he made a second ball duck in the opening fixture against Glamorgan, he is always a man to fear.
Northamptonshire Squad: TBA
Birmingham Bears Squad: Will Rhodes (c), Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Henry Brookes, Michael Burgess (wk), Sam Hain, Adam Hose, Jake Lintott, Dan Mousley, Liam Norwell, Olly Stone, Jeetan Patel, Ed Pollock, Dom Sibley
Weather and Conditions
The weather looks set to hold for this one, but it could be a chilly day out for the players once the floodlights take effect. The pitch for Northants’ opening home game on Sunday was a good one for both batsman and bowlers, so it’ll be interesting to see if it stays the same for this one.
Date: 1st September
Ground: Wantage Road