The Blast has taken another Championship break

The Blast has taken another Championship break

The group stages of the Vitality Blast comes to a climax later this week, with quarter final qualification still being hotly contested.

With only a couple of games left for each county over the coming weekend, the battle for quarter final spots is coming to a head, with the majority of teams in the North Group still in with a chance of finishing in the top four. Things are clearer in the South Group, with Somerset already guaranteed a home quarter final, while the remaining three slots are realistically between Surrey, Hampshire Hawks, Kent Spitfires and Essex Eagles.

In the North Group, the Birmingham Bears have won five on the spin and have secured a spot in the last eight, with a win against either the Notts Outlaws or Durham securing them a home quarter final. The Outlaws have slipped back into fourth after losing their last match to the Worcestershire Rapids and need one win from their last two games, which are against the Bears and bottom-placed Leicestershire Foxes. Lancashire Lightening sit in second on net run rate and have games against Yorkshire Vikings and Northamptonshire Steelbacks. The Vikings remain in contention but will need to win the Roses clash. The Lightening have fought back from a mid-campaign slump, winning five of their last six games. Joining the Lightening and the Outlaws on 14 points are the Rapids, whose last two games are against Derbyshire Falcons and Durham, both of whom are effectively out of contention. The Steelbacks also look like missing out, with only one game left to play.

Somerset have dominated the South Group from the start of the competition, with just two defeats so far, against second and third placed sides, Surrey and Hampshire Hawks. Surrey, who looked clear favourites to join them, have had a rather stop/start campaign. In the last week of T20 matches they rolled over against Hampshire (scoring just 124), crushed Glamorgan and then in their last game, failing to defend 252 against previously winless Middlesex. The chase by Middlesex was the highest in Blast history and the second highest of all time in T20 cricket. They could theoretically miss out on a quarter final spot and have two tough fixtures remaining, against Somerset and the Eagles, although they are both at the Oval. The Eagles have a well balanced team with their batters striking the ball well and all making regular contributions. They join the Hawks and the Spitfires on 14 points. The Hawks probably have the easiest run in, playing Glamorgan and Gloucestershire at home, both of whom are playing for pride. Essex face Middlesex at home and Surrey away, while the Spitfires play Sussex at home and Somerset (who could rest players) away. Run rate may well be a deciding factor.  

Hopefully the forecast of more unsettled weather will not impact the final standings. The quarter finals are then due to take place on the 6th and 7th July before finals day at Edgbaston on 15th July.

Current Tables:

North Group

PosTeamPlayedWonLostTiedN/RNet RRPoints
1Birmingham Bears129300+0.88018
2Lancashire Lightning127500+0.32914
3Worcestershire Rapids127500+0.27114
4Notts Outlaws127500-0.22914
5Yorkshire Vikings136601-0.73713
6Northamptonshire Steelbacks136700+0.40412
7Derbyshire Falcons125610+0.28511
8Durham Cricket124611+0.12810
9Leicestershire Foxes1221000-1.3134

South Group

PosTeamPlayedWonLostTiedN/RNet RRPoints
1Somerset CCC1210200+1.54320
2Surrey CCC128400+1.49116
3Hampshire Hawks127500+0.58714
4Kent Spitfires127500+0.43114
5Essex Eagles127500+0.09814
7Sussex Sharks125700-0.87910

Remaining fixtures:

Friday 30 June

Derbyshire Falcons v Leicestershire Foxes (Incora County Ground, Derby)

Essex Eagles v Middlesex (Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford)

Hampshire Hawks v Glamorgan (Ageas Bowl)

Kent Spitfires v Sussex Sharks (Spitfire Ground, Canterbury)

Lancashire Lightning v Yorkshire Vikings (Emirates Old Trafford)

Notts Outlaws v Birmingham Bears (Trent Bridge)

Surrey v Somerset (Kia Oval)

Worcestershire Rapids v Durham (New Road)

Saturday 1 July

Sussex Sharks v Gloucestershire (1st Central County Ground, Hove)

Sunday 2 July

Birmingham Bears v Durham (Edgbaston)

Derbyshire Falcons v Worcestershire Rapids (Incora County Ground, Derby)

Glamorgan v Middlesex (Sophia Gardens)

Hampshire Hawks v Gloucestershire (Ageas Bowl)

Lancashire Lightning v Northamptonshire Steelbacks (Emirates Old Trafford)

Notts Outlaws v Leicestershire Foxes (Trent Bridge)

Somerset v Kent Spitfires (Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton)

Surrey v Essex Eagles (Kia Oval)


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