Vitality Blast Half Way Round Up

Vitality Blast Half Way Round Up

There are still plenty of games left but the likely quarter finalists are showing themselves

Each county has now played at least half their group games and the contenders for quarter final spots are becoming clearer. Somerset remain in control of the South Group despite a hiccough in Southampton, going down by five runs to a strong Hampshire outfit. Both teams look likely quarter-finalists with the Hawks lying in third spot, although they have played a game more than the three teams below them. Somerset were straight back into winning ways on Friday night in Bristol, as they posted 231/4 from their 20 overs, Will Smead making 94 from just 35 balls. Gloucestershire were in contention while Miles Hammond (61) and Ben Charlesworth were at the crease, putting on 75 off 43 balls for the second wicket, but resistance then fell away and they were finally all out for 151. Meanwhile, Hampshire suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Kent, who chased down 178 thanks to 89 off 55 balls from Daniel Bell-Drummond. This gave the Spitfires their second win, but they will need a major turnaround in fortune to finish in the top four. Surrey lie second and look a strong bet for a finals day spot. They posted 258/6 in their latest win against Sussex, thanks to 93 from Laurie Evans and 68 from Sam Curran. This score follows the 236/2 they posted in beating Glamorgan earlier in the week. They are a team of all-rounders, giving them numerous bowling options; a godsend to any captain in this format.

With Somerset, Surrey and Hampshire looking the likely top three counties in the South Group, it is a chase for the remaining quarter-final spot. Essex currently lie in fourth after a convincing 51 run win over their nearest rival, Glamorgan. Glamorgan have lost a number of key players to injuries and are struggling to field a strong enough bowling unit, which has seen them concede over 200 runs in their last two games. Essex’s total of 226/9 was based around 78 off 34 balls from all-rounder Paul Walter. Essex have some useful bowling options, led by Simon Harmer and bowled Glamorgan out for 175. They now have five wins from seven games, while Glamorgan have four. Gloucestershire are a further two points behind, in sixth place and will probably need five wins from their remaining seven games to mount a challenge. Sussex have fallen behind in eighth spot with four points, while Middlesex are yet to register a win.

Things are a little closer in the North Group, with the top six sides separated by just four points. The early leaders, Worcestershire Rapids, who won their first four games have since lost their next three and slipped back to fourth place. Their neighbours, the Bears have been able to maintain their good start and currently sit second with five wins from eight games. Sam Hain has been their main run scorer with 417 at a strike rate of 168.14 and they have the overseas services of Glenn Maxwell. Despite the loss of their skipper Moeen Ali to the England squad, they are expected to be in the mix as the competition reaches a climax. Notts Outlaws are now top of the group, having played one more game than any of the chasers. They have won their last four games and have match winners in their ranks in the form of Alex Hales and Shaheen Shah Afridi. Colin Munro is their top runs scorer with 295 at a strike rate of 157.75, but Hales is right behind him with 293 at a strike rate of 147.97. Yorkshire Vikings lie in third place having woken up from losing their opening three games, to come back and win their last five. In their last match it was 22-year-old James Wharton, in only his fourth first team T20 game, who led the way with 111 not out from 56 balls, as the Vikings posted 224/4 against the Rapids. The Rapids then fell 26 runs short of the target, Jordan Thompson taking 4/34. Durham lie in fifth place with a 50% record from their eight starts, having lost their last two matches and interestingly, two of their four defeats have come against Leicestershire Foxes, who are currently bottom of the group. One of these was in the last game, where the Foxes were able to chase down 173 thanks to a maiden T20 century from Rishi Patel, his 104 coming from 49 balls. Durham’s seam bowling options have come under pressure because of injuries to Brydon Carse, Paul Coughlin and Ollie Gibson and the loss of Matty Potts to England and they have now recruited Craig Miles on loan from Warwickshire for the next two Championship games. However, he will remain with the Bears for the Blast.

One of the early favourites, Lancashire Lightning sit in sixth spot, also with four wins from eight games. They won their first three matches, but since Jos Buttler’s return have managed just one further victory, against the Outlaws. They have a team with plenty of experience and it would be a surprise not to see them make the quarter-final stage. Derbyshire Falcons and Northamptonshire Steelbacks lie in seventh and eighth spots, separated by run rate. On six points they still have a chance of making the quarter finals, but will need to win at least four of their remaining six games. Bottom placed Foxes look to have too much to do.

The Blast will restart next Friday with a packed schedule in the nine days before a further round of Championship games. Success will not be down to just cricketing skills, but organisational ones as counties have to deal with the hectic turnarounds caused by the fragmented nature of the schedule. A number of coaches have been forthright in their questioning of the number of games being played in such a short space of time and we will have to wait to see if changes are made in the future. In the meantime, if we were to predict the likely quarter finalists as things stand at the moment, it would be Somerset, Surrey, Hampshire and Essex from the South Group and Notts, Birmingham, Yorkshire and Lancashire from the North Group. However, there will undoubtedly be some surprises to come.

Current Tables:

North Group

PosTeamPlayedWonLostTiedN/RNet RRPoints
1Notts Outlaws96300+0.10512
2Birmingham Bears85300+0.77810
3Yorkshire Vikings85300+0.20510
4Worcestershire Rapids74300+0.4868
5Durham Cricket84400+0.2728
6Lancashire Lightning84400+0.1638
7Derbyshire Falcons83500-0.4096
8Northamptonshire Steelbacks83500-0.6516
9Leicestershire Foxes82600-0.9144

South Group

PosTeamPlayedWonLostTiedN/RNet RRPoints
1Somerset CCC87100+2.06014
2Surrey CCC86200+1.90312
3Hampshire Hawks85300+0.57110
4Essex Eagles75200+0.14410
7Kent Spitfires72500-0.2764
8Sussex Sharks82600-1.7724


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