Vitality Blast week five

Vitality Blast week five

After two weeks of Championship cricket we have returned to T20 and two weeks of cricket that will see the conclusion of the group stages of the Vitality Blast. Just to make life as easy as possible for counties to recruit overseas players, the quarter finals will then take place in the first week of September with Finals Day 11 days after the first quarter final.

The weather is starting to have an impact on the likely qualifiers, with the Hampshire Hawks in particular having a right to feel hard done by. Their match against Middlesex was their third to be rained off and the second against the bottom placed side, with the other involving Glamorgan, who they would have expected to beat. They now need to win at least four of their remaining five matches to reach 15 points, a total that might just be enough. Their next game is against Sussex who had an unexpected loss to a Glamorgan side with some new faces in it. Will Smale (43) came in at the top of the order and alongside Kiran Carlson (87) put early pressure on the Sussex bowling attack, which was without Ollie Robinson for the first time this season in the Blast. The omission may have proved costly as the opening pair put on 79 runs in 5.3 overs and Glamorgan ended on 235/6. Even with a short boundary on one side at Hove, Sussex fell 24 runs short of a revised Duckworth Lewis target.

South Group leaders Surrey also had a washout on Friday night against Middlesex and then faced Kent Spitfires on Sunday with England’s Chris Jordan and Reece Topley back in their ranks. This was another rain affected match and when the teams were able to get on the field, the game had been reduced to 10 overs-a-side. Surrey’s Laurie Evans was their main contributor, with 25 from 13 balls, as they posted 103/5. Further rain meant the Spitfires had a re-calculated target of 87 from eight overs and 35 off 19 balls from Feroze Khushi helped get them within touching distance. It was Jordan who had the responsibility of bowling the last over, with 17 needed and despite overstepping on the first ball he held his nerve, Surrey winning by five runs. Surrey are now on 16 points, which should be enough for a quarter final spot, while the Spitfires are now out of contention.

Somerset also had a disappointing weekend, their match against Essex Eagles abandoned without a ball bowled and they then lost a thriller against Gloucestershire on the penultimate ball. 77 not out from Tom Banton took Somerset to 194/6, Gloucestershire not helping themselves by dropping Banton three times early on. The final total was due in no small part to 47 from 25 balls from Ben Green as he helped plunder 32 from the last over. Gloucestershire kept pace with the required rate, Miles Hammond making 42 and Beau Webster 39 off 25 balls. It was left to Ben Charlesworth and Ollie Price to get them over the line and an excellent 19th over from Jake Ball meant the equation was 13 needed off the last which was bowled by Green. A six off the third ball meant that six runs were still needed and Charlesworth then launched the fifth ball for another maximum to see the visitors home. This was only the second loss for Somerset in their last 15 Blast games at Taunton and means there are now only five points between second and seventh places, seventh placed Hampshire Hawks with a game in hand. Gloucestershire have now joined Somerset and Essex on 11 points, although trail on net run rate.

After their win at Hove on Friday night Glamorgan disrupted the progress of another of the teams currently occupying a top four spot, Essex Eagles. Put into bat, Glamorgan made a slow start, 26/2 after five overs. However, 30 from Marnus Labuschagne gave impetus to the innings, the final over of the powerplay going for 17 runs. He and Tom Bevan (23) put on 49 runs in 32 balls for the third wicket and when Labuschagne was dismissed, Colin Ingram with 47 off 28 balls and Chris Cooke with 38 from 18 were able to move the game in Glamorgan’s favour. The Eagles needed 183 to win, but Timm van der Gugten made early inroads, taking three wickets in the first five overs. However, Adam Rossington (41) and Paul Walter (53) looked to have things in hand, putting on 83 off nine overs. They were both removed in the space of five balls and then it was the leg spin of Mason Crane (2/22) and Labuschagne (3/26) that wrested back control for Glamorgan. Apart from Rossington and Walter, none of the Eagles batters reached double figures and they were all out for 156.

In the North Group, the Bears have reached the 16 point mark, which should be sufficient to reach the quarter finals. They did so with a demolition of Notts Outlaws, who have lost most of the players that took them to Finals Day three times between 2017 and 2020. The Outlaws were rolled over for 57 and it took just 5.2 overs for the Bears to reach the target. The Bears were also successful on Friday night against the Yorkshire Vikings. Choosing to bat first at Headingley, 98 not out off 48 balls from Sam Hain and 43 from 26 by Alex Davies helped them to 214/7. The Vikings pushed them close, Donovan Ferreira making 66 off 32 balls and Dawid Malan 54 from 34. At 197/4 after 18 overs with Ferreira and Shan Masood at the crease they looked in control. However Dan Mousley had Ferreira caught at long-off at the start of the penultimate over and left-arm quick George Garton then expertly closed things out, with six needed from the final ball.

The Vikings also lost to Derbyshire Falcons on Sunday, the Falcons reaching the target of 131 with seven wickets and five overs to spare. Mohammad Amir has finally joined up with the county and his 2/23, alongside 3/26 from Alex Thomson kept the Vikings scoring in check. David Lloyd led the chase with 50 off 32 balls. This was the Falcons second win in the space of two days, having beaten Leicestershire Foxes on Saturday. 48 from Lewis Goldsworthy and 61 from 30 balls from Ben Cox saw the Foxes to 184/6, but runs from Wayne Madsen (45) and Samit Patel (67), who have a combined age of over 80, saw the Falcons home with four balls to spare. The Falcons have now moved up to fifth place and as in the South Group, there are only five points between second and seventh places.

Lancashire Lightening have gone off the boil having lost two games and then had their match against Northamptonshire abandoned. However, they were back in winning ways against Worcestershire Rapids, although it took them until the penultimate ball to get over the line. The Rapids posted 181/4 thanks to 74 from 53 balls from Josh Cobb and 45 not out off 26 balls from Adam Hose. Keaton Jennings then got the Lightening off to a bright start with 41 from 20 balls before they were pegged back by the Rapids’ bowlers, led by Matthew Waite with 3/19 from his three overs. Kiwi Tom Bruce held the Lightening batting together with 50 from 36 balls and he was there at the end, with 11 needed off the last over, Waite having taken two wickets at the end of the 19th over. Tom Taylor conceded just five runs from the first four balls of the final over but Luke Wood launched the next for six over square leg to complete the win.

As well as their washout against the Lightening, Northants Steelbacks enjoyed a win against Durham. Durham were in trouble at 4 for 3, but Colin Ackerman (70) helped guide the remaining batting to a total that gave their bowlers something to defend. Ben Sanderson finished with career-best figures of 4/15 and young left arm wrist spinner, Freddie Heldreich 3/23. Ricardo Vasconselos led the reply with 41 off 33 balls and some tight bowling, Nathan Sowter returning 2/22, put pressure on the Steelbacks batters. They ended up needing 10 runs an over in the last five, but got home with two balls to spare, Lewis McManus making an unbeaten 25 from 16 balls. The Steelbacks have now moved up into third place, while Durham are now in fourth place, thanks to a win against the Rapids on Friday night. Runs from all of the top seven guided Durham to 190/5 and despite 45 off 25 balls from Kashif Ali and 39 off 29 by Josh Cobb, the Rapids fell 22 runs short, Ben Raine taking 3/30 and Ben Dwarshuis 3/35.

The Foxes game against the Outlaws on Friday night was abandoned after the Outlaws had reached 175/5 from 17 overs and the loss to Durham now leaves them in sixth place.

While the top teams in both groups look guaranteed a quarter final spot, the next six counties are fighting out for the remaining three spots, as both groups have become tighter. The bottom two clubs look to be out of contention.  

North Group

PosTeamPlayedWonLostTiedN/RNet RRPoints
1Birmingham Bears108200+1.54216
2Lancashire Lightning106301+1.11013
3Northamptonshire Steelbacks105311−0.36712
6Leicestershire Foxes104411+0.21610
7Yorkshire Vikings104600−0.0918
8Nottinghamshire Outlaws102602−2.1596
9Worcestershire Rapids102800−0.5824

South Group

PosTeamPlayedWonLostTiedN/RNet RRPoints
2Sussex Sharks96300+0.35812
7Hampshire Hawks92403−0.6397
8Kent Spitfires103700−0.4756


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