Vitality Blast week two

Vitality Blast week two

Plenty of unexpected results suggest it will be a scrap for quarter final places

With some surprise results over the last week the tables are pretty congested and all the teams will be thinking they are still in the competition, except Notts Outlaws. In the South Group, Sussex Sharks had a comfortable 36 run win against Surrey, Daniel Hughes making 65 off 42 balls and Tom Alsop a 36-ball 68 as the Sharks reached 213/7, having been put in to bat at the Oval. This was their biggest score in this format against Surrey and in reply the home side could only manage 177/7, Ollie Pope finishing on 99 not out.

The Sharks have gone on to overhaul Surrey at the top of the table, with a 48 run defeat of Gloucestershire. The Sharks posted another 200 plus total, Hughes again making 65, this time off 35 balls, while James Coles reached 54 off 33 balls. Gloucestershire needed 209 to win, but never really got going, Ollie Robinson returning 1/11 off his three overs and Tymal Mills, 2/24 from four, while Cameron Bancroft top scored with 42 from 32 balls. Hughes is the second highest run scorer in the competition so far with 177 at a strike rate of 165.42.

Last year’s winners Somerset have had a difficult start to the competition, suffering a second defeat, this time to Kent Spitfires at Canterbury. Put in to bat, 68 from 30 balls by Will Smeed and 42 from Tom Abell saw the visitors to 197/6. They then had the Spitfires in trouble at 37/4, before Sam Billings came to the crease and bludgeoned his way to his first T20 century, making 106 off 58 balls and seeing the Spitfires home by four wickets with four balls to spare.

Somerset then took revenge against Hampshire Hawks on Sunday, posting their third highest ever total, having been asked to bat first. They looked to be in trouble when they were three down in the power play, but 96 not out off 47 balls from Abell and 65 off 32 from Sean Dickson took them to 241/5. The Hawks made a good start to the chase, James Vince (30) and Ben McDermott (46) putting on 77 from 44 balls for the first wicket, both removed by Ben Green who finished with 5/29. The scoreboard pressure then took its toll and the Hawks were dismissed for 178. Somerset have had a tough opening set of fixtures and would be expected to start moving up the table and be lining up a quarter final spot.

The Hawks have been weakened by injuries to Tom Prest and Ali Orr, but still managed a win against Gloucestershire on Friday night. It was set up by a strong bowling performance, dismissing the home side for 124 in 18.2 overs. They reached the target inside 17 overs, Toby Albert top scoring with 41.

Essex Eagles have also struggled and nearly went down to Glamorgan on Friday night, saved by an unbeaten 45 run ninth wicket stand between 19-year-old Luc Benkenstein, with 35 not out off 21 balls and Shane Snater with 20. Glamorgan’s total of 166/8 was based around 52 off 29 balls from Colin Ingram and although this would normally be a sub-par total at Chelmsford, the pitch was gripping and helping spin. The Eagles made a fast start in their chase thanks to 48 from 24 balls from Adam Rossington, but they were pegged back by the leg spin of Mason Crane (4/25) and Marnus Labuschagne (3/35). They went from 90/2 after 7.4 overs to 123/8 from 12.4 overs, but then rallied, getting home with eight balls to spare.

Middlesex have had a poor start to the competition, not helped by a lack of any overseas players and injury to their gun batter, Leus du Plooy. They met Glamorgan at Lords on Thursday night and having elected to bat first, made a fast start with Steve Eskinazi (48 off 29 balls) and Martin Andersson (57 from 34 balls), putting on 108 for the first wicket at almost two runs per ball. However wickets slowed down the scoring and with no other significant contributions, they were restricetd to 173. Glamorgan did not get off to the best of starts as Eddie Byrom went first ball, but 54 from 24 balls by Kiran Carlson and 67 off 46 from Sam Northeast broke the back of the chase and they reached the target with three wickets and 10 balls to spare.

This competition always throws up surprises and Middlesex’s defeat of the Spitfires, who had just beaten Somerset can certainly go down as unexpected. Put into bat, the Spitfires reached 173/8, Daniel Bell-Drummond making 60 from 38 balls. Tom Helm took 2/24 and Luke Hollman 2/18. Andersson was lbw to Joe Denly in the first over of the Middlesex innings, but Eskinazi (40 off 29 balls) and Ryan Higgins (44 off 29 balls) steadied the ship and Jack Davies (23) and Hollman (20*) saw them home.  

In the North Group, Lancashire Lightening have continued their strong start, with a win against fancied Birmingham Bears. Put in to bat, 66 off 32 balls from Luke Wells helped the Lightening to 176/8. Sam Hain’s 59 was the mainstay of the Bears reply, but they fell short by eight runs, Wells also making a significant contribution with his off spin, taking 2/25 from his four overs. They then defeated Notts Outlaws, who are still without a win, by six wickets. Having elected to bat first, the Outlaws were restricted to 153/8, Liam Patterson-White, in his first Blast game, making 44 not out from 21 deliveries. Spin was a threat, Chris Green taking 2/16 from his four overs. 64 from the bat of Keaton Jennings then help guide the Lightening home with nine balls to spare. Patterson-White might expect to play a few more games, finishing with 1/22 with his left arm spin.  

Meanwhile the Bears hosted Durham on Saturday afternoon and failed to chase down the visitor’s 194/9. David Bedingham top scored with 63 off just 27 balls, having come to the crease when Graham Clark was out to the second ball of the match. In reply, the Bears were progressing nicely at 120/3 off 12.3 overs, with Sam Hain and Jacob Bethell at the crease. However wickets started to fall, Ben Raine taking 5/21 and Bethell’s 50 was the only significant resistance as the Bears were all out for 168 in the 19th over. This was Durham’s second win in two days, following two heavy defeats, having beaten the Leicestershire Foxes by seven wickets the previous evening. 50 not out from Ben Cox guided the Foxes to 176/7 and then Alex Lees with 71 not out from 53 balls and Bedingham with 43 helped Durham over the line with three balls to spare. Bedingham has only come into the side because of injury to Colin Ackerman, not having played in the Blast since 2022. This has meant that Ben Dwarshuis has missed out, with Ashton Turner the second Durham oversees player.

The Foxes now also have a 50% record, beating Worcestershire Rapids on Sunday afternoon. As in last season’s One Day Cup final, it fell to 19-year-old Josh Hull to bowl the final over, defending 12 runs. Despite a no ball, he held is nerve and the Foxes won by four runs. Their innings of 176/8 was based on 48 from Rishi Patel and in reply, the Rapids were progressing nicely at 105/1 off 12.1 overs. Matthew Waite (40) was then dismissed by Scot Currie and Lewis Goldsworthy, on loan from Somerset, then had Adam Hose stumped. He and Rehan Ahmed put the brakes on the Rapids innings, their eight overs going for just 45 runs, Ahmed picking up the key wickets of Brett D’Oliveira (32) and Josh Cobb (34). The Rapids were left needing 20 runs from the last two overs, but they fell short as they had done against Northants Steelbacks on Friday night.

On that occasion they were chasing 170, the Steelbacks’ indebted to an unbeaten fifth wicket stand of 79 off 36 balls from Sikander Raza (42 off 31 balls) and Saif Zaib (44 off 21 balls). The Rapids lost wickets regularly, Zaib taking 3/20 and it was Gareth Roderick with 39 off 22 balls that kept the Rapids’ hopes alive. Needing 27 off the last two overs, he took the penultimate over, bowled by David Willey, for 16 runs, but another 19-year-old, Raphael Weatherall, who had not bowled in the match up until the final over, was entrusted with it and duly delivered, conceding just four runs and taking the key wicket of Roderick.

Derbyshire Falcons have had a tough time in the Championship and had mixed fortunes this weekend. Having lost two of their first three matches they had a comfortable win against struggling Notts Outlaws. Put into bat the Falcons posted 198/6, Wayne Madsen making 53 and Ross Whitely a quickfire 46 from just 16 balls, including fives sixes, helping to take 50 runs off the last three overs of the innings. The Outlaws lost skipper Joe Clarke first ball and the top score was 17 as they were dismissed for 102 in 16.4 overs. Daryn Dupavillon, Pat Brown and Whitely each took three wickets. The Falcons then travelled to Leeds and having against been asked to bat first, made 179/6, Aneurin Donald completing the fastest 50 by a Derbyshire player, taking just 19 balls, ending with 84 off 41 balls. He put on 114 for the first wicket with David Lloyd (41) in 10.1 overs, but the innings then tailed away, Joe Root taking 2/20. The target did not cause the Yorkshire Vikings too much trouble as they passed it with 11 balls and nine wickets to spare, Adam Lyth making 84 from 51 balls and Dawid Malan an undefeated 79 from 48 balls. The win maintains the Vikings’ position just behind the North Group leaders, the Lightening.

North Group

PosTeamPlayedWonLostTiedN/RNet RRPoints
1Lancashire Lightning54100+1.7948
2Yorkshire Vikings43100+0.9396
3Northamptonshire Steelbacks43100+0.4976
4Derbyshire Falcons52300+0.2914
5Leicestershire Foxes42200+0.5784
6Birmingham Bears42200+0.2714
7Worcestershire Rapids52300-0.5454
8Durham Cricket42200-1.2894
9Notts Outlaws50500-2.1530

South Group

PosTeamPlayedWonLostTiedN/RNet RRPoints
1Sussex Sharks43100+0.7506
2Surrey  43100+0.5866
3Kent Spitfires42200+1.1554
7Hampshire Hawks42200-0.4664


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