Worcestershire Rapids and Nottinghamshire Outlaws will get their Vitality Blast 2021 campaigns underway at New Road on Wednesday evening. Both are recent winners of the competition, with the Rapids securing the title in 2019, whilst the Outlaws won last season. Notts will be hoping to achieve the feat of winning consecutive titles, something not done in domestic T20 history.
The Outlaws have been stung this week by an international call-up for Dan Christian, who will now miss the T20 group stage to play for Australia. The 38 year-old has featured in every Blast campaign for Notts since 2015, and was instrumental in their victories in 2017 and 2020.
Notts head coach Peter Moores told BBC Sport, “It’s going to be strange not having Dan around.
“He’s been here for every Blast campaign since 2015 and he’s led the side brilliantly as well, but what it will do is create opportunities for other players to step up.”
It is still a strong and experienced squad for the Outlaws, though, with the likes of Jake Ball and Alex Hales having played T20 cricket all over the world. Throw in the likes of Steven Mullaney, Peter Trego, Samit Patel and Tom Moores and you have yourself a great looking team.
Worcestershire Rapids have had overseas issues themselves with the attractive signing of Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichhane falling through after visa and passport issues. But they have instead signed left-arm quick Ben Dwarshuis, who starred for the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash, and New Zealand spinner Isa Sodhi, who helped Notts lift the trophy in 2017.
The Rapids have also added Gareth Roderick from Gloucestershire to a batting line-up that will, at least for the first part of the tournament, also feature Moeen Ali. They will bat well down the order, too, with superb all-rounders Ed Barnard and Brett D’Oliveira at their disposal.
It’s a mouth-watering opening fixture in the North Group, and expectations will be high for an entertaining battle between two of the tournament’s pre-favourites.
Ben Dwarshuis has been described by Worcestershire’s chairman as ‘a bit of a coup’ for the county, and it will be interesting to see how quickly he adapts to English domestic T20 cricket. 85 wickets in this format, at an average of 22.98, suggests he could be key to a victory here.
Jake Ball will surely still have international aspirations when it comes to T20 cricket, but it will take a special tournament from him to have any chance. He will surely be fired up for this first game.
Worcestershire Rapids squad: TBA
Nottinghamshire Outlaws squad: Steven Mullaney (c), Jake Ball, Sol Budinger, Matt Carter, Joe Clarke, Ben Duckett, Luke Fletcher, Alex Hales, Calvin Harrison, Lyndon James, Tom Moores (wk), Dane Paterson, Samit Patel, Peter Trego
Weather and Conditions
Cloudy but warm with temperatures forecast to be around 20 degrees Celsius.
Date: 9th June 2021
Ground: New Road
Odds (SkyBet): Worcestershire 11/10, Nottinghamshire 8/11