July 5, 2012

Friends Life t20, Thursday July 5 2012

Alex Winter
Matt Prior ends up flat-out during keeping drills, Lord's, May 15, 2012
''I'm not getting up until England release me for Sussex Twenty20"  © Getty Images
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Stat of the Week

Of batsman that have made over 100 runs in the FLt20 this season, Matt Prior has the highest strike rate with 216.32 runs per 100 balls in making 106 runs in three matches for Sussex. Prior is an England player proving what exciting cricket they can provide to the tournament. If only more of them were available. It would surely go a long way to helping England’s T20 side too.

State of Play

Let’s start in the south group where things are pretty straight forward. Sussex are still unbeaten and have qualified for the quarter-finals. One more victory would guarantee them a home draw but only a wicked set of results would deny them that if they were to lose both games. They can be beaten to top spot by Hampshire if they lose both of their matches and Hampshire win both of theirs – the sides play each other on Friday. But remember the second-placed side with the best record also gets a home quarter-final.

Essex and Kent both have to win all three of their final matches and hope Hampshire lose both of their games to qualify. Kent will also need to improve their net run-rate to qualify ahead of Hampshire.

Nottinghamshire lead the North group courtesy of a vastly superior net run-rate over Yorkshire. The two sides have a game in hand on the rest of the sides in their group meaning one win from three is needed to qualify for both teams. Lancashire and Durham have to win both of their matches; Lancashire needing to improve their net run-rate but Durham can qualify on points if results go their way.

In the Midlands/Wales/West group things are much tighter: Worcestershire, Somerset and Warwickshire all have 10 points with Gloucestershire three points back. If Worcestershire can beat Gloucestershire tonight they will take a major stride into the quarter-finals but still have work to do. A Gloucestershire victory would put them right back in the mix with two games to play. But nothing will be decided in this group until Sunday.

Let’s go to the ESPNcricinfo wildcard table again to have a look at the sides best-placed to claim a place in the quarter-finals as one of the two best third-placed teams.

FLt20 Wildcard Table

Team Pld Pts Net run-rate 1. Warks --- 8 -- 10 --- +0.174 2. Durham -- 8 -- 8 ---- -0.284 3. Lancs ---- 8 --- 7 --- +0.136 4. Gloucs --- 7 --- 7 --- -0.184 5. Essex ---- 7 --- 6 --- -0.350 6. Glam ----- 8 --- 6 --- -1.147 7. Kent ----- 7 --- 5 --- -0.975

Marketing report

Many people would see having to market four games in five days as the equivalent of climbing up a water slide – no matter how hard you try, you’re going to get nowhere. But Surrey had a go with a poster showing an inspiring image of their team huddled together on The Oval outfield and some wartime propaganda-inspired words beneath it, coupled with the statement of “four games, five days”. Suddenly supporting Surrey seemed a very tiring exercise. Especially as they’re playing poorly. But the Middlesex match on Friday – a game that needs no marketeering – should provide a bumper crowd at last.

In other gimmicky news, Essex have revived the hard-hats courtesy of a local solicitors and will be handing out 100 green lids tonight.

Nottinghamshire meanwhile have produced this rousing video of their mascot, Nuts, shaping up for the Mascot grand national. Yes, it’s still going and I’m sure David Lloyd will be glee-er then ever in providing the commentary.

Talking of Bumble, the ECB always generates a centralised marketing campaign for T20, something that does not always perfectly dovetail with the counties. A few years ago we had billboard on Gloucester Road in Bristol promoting T20, “coming to a ground near you” without telling you that the cricket ground was 200 yards away and there was a match next Thursday. I digress. This year it’s been all digital. We’ve had videos of Rory Bremner’s impersonations (which were funny but didn’t really tell us anything about T20) and Notts grabbed hold of Bumble for their own video push. I can’t imagine it has had too great an effect as only 116 people have watched that video on YouTube and I refreshed it three times.

And do have a glance through “Bumble’s Broadcasts” – individually tailored messages to those who tweeted in, uploaded to the ECB's YouTube channel. Another very curious ploy. Just spend the money putting up signs for counties! People don't just need to be encouraged to go to Friends Life t20, they need to be told when and where they can watch the games.

Clash of the Day

There is a massive game at Trent Bridge where Notts entertain Yorkshire. This is the game in hand for both teams over the other sides in the group and whoever wins will be guaranteed a spot in the quarter-finals. For Nottinghamshire it would also be a huge step to winning the group and securing a home quarter-final because they have a very strong net run-rate. They would have to lose both their final two matches and Yorkshire win both of theirs for the White Rose to overhaul them.

Trending: Luke Wright

'Have bat, will travel' is becoming his motto as he gets picked up by various T20 sides around the world. This last 12 months he has played for Sussex, Pune in India, Impi in South Africa, Melbourne Stars in Australia and Wellington in New Zealand. He is proving quite a popular figure for T20 considering he is not a great name and his international career spluttered along for 30 T20s and 46 ODIs with many people never quite figuring out what he was ever doing in the side. His England record is extremely mediocre.

Perhaps maturity and freedom from the pressure of worrying about his place in the England team have freed him up. Australians finally realised who England had at No.7 for all those years when he struck the highest innings in the Big Bash League in January and he has carried that form into the FLt20 with 216 runs in six matches. On Tuesday he struck a 21-ball 32 that helped Sussex do the Duckworth-Lewis over Surrey.

Now where are England going to find that elusive middle-order batsman who bowls a few overs? Hmm ... that ship has probably sailed unfortunately.

Today’s games

Gloucestershire v Worcestershire, Bristol, 17.30 Surrey v Kent, The Oval, 18.40 Essex v Middlesex, Chelsmford, 19.00 Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire, Trent Bridge, 19.00

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

RSS Feeds: Alex Winter

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Narumi on (July 31, 2012, 13:15 GMT)

Richard III only has one matinee on Sunday, July 17th. The Directors mullauty decided that they would rather have more nighttime performances of Richard and more daytime performances of As You Like It.

Posted by Samuel on (July 5, 2012, 18:25 GMT)

Mike - I get the BBL mixed up with the Bangladesh competition all the time! My mistake.

Posted by Mike on (July 5, 2012, 17:12 GMT)

Samuel as far as i know Luke Wright did not play in the Bangladesh Premier League!

Posted by Samuel on (July 5, 2012, 13:58 GMT)

Thomas - I agree about Luke Wright. He seems to have added a bit of brains as well as brawn to his batting - when he first played for England quite often he was swinging from the hip. He played a lot in the Bangladesh Premier League, so his knowledge and experience of subcontinental conditions could well come in useful in the World T20. He'd be a better bet than Owais Shah (another English T20 specialist being spoken about) I reckon - his bowling is useful and he's a superb fielder, two things Shah most definitely isn't. I said on yesterday's blog that I also reckon any one of Lancashire's top three have a decent chance of making the trip to open alongside Hales - Stephen Moore, Tom Smith and Stephen Croft are all having excellent seasons. I get the feeling that Moore and Hales are really going to start pushing Bell for the 50 over slot soon too. In other words, Kieswetter's got to start producing if he wants to stay in the side.

Posted by Graem on (July 5, 2012, 13:49 GMT)

There will be no opportunity for Craig Kieswetter to demonstrate his form in T20 cricket as he isn't playing any. He also can't impress England with his opening skills in ODI cricket as he is batting at No6. The T20 squad to play South Africa in September can only include Kieswetter if England rely on blind faith. It is very unlikely that the selectors will stop ignoring Trott and Bell as T20 openers as they are not playing any T20 cricket at all. Therefore, Alex Hales most deserving opening partner would be someone doing well in the domestic T20. Stephen Moore's stats are very good but apart from Luke Wright, no one else stands out.

Posted by Graem Peters on (July 5, 2012, 13:38 GMT)

Luke Wright's England record is far from being 'extremely mediocre'. Most of his batting in both ODI and T20 has been at No7 or in a situation where England needed someone to come in and hit boundaries from ball one. In that respect he has a very good strike rate. I agree that he is a more accomplished batter now than when he first broke into the England side. He made his name as a T20 opener and after a year out with injury is reminding people what he can do in that role. England barely gave him a chance in that role, and perhaps he deserves a decent crack at it now. England's T20 side would be improved with Wright opening instead of Kieswetter and Buttler taking the gloves.

Posted by Chris on (July 5, 2012, 13:27 GMT)

Luke Wright has always been underrated for his batting in all formats, the problem was they tried to develop him as a true all-rounder. He is a quality batsman in all formats, but in T20 can be devastating. He simply has to be at least considered for the World T20.

Posted by Thomas Alexis-Webb on (July 5, 2012, 12:39 GMT)

In terms of Luke Wright, I don't think he is that middle order batsman who bowls a few overs anymore, if he were to go to the World T20 it would be alongside Alex Hales at the top of the order batsman who offers some bowling. He is a much better batsman than he was the last time he played for England and he is best as a powerful opening batsman. His form just adds to the number of people looking over the shoulder of Keiswetter for a place on that plane

Posted by Thomas Alexis-Webb on (July 5, 2012, 11:47 GMT)

In terms of Luke Wright, I don't think he is that middle order batsman who bowls a few overs anymore, if he were to go to the World T20 it would be alongside Alex Hales at the top of the order batsman who offers some bowling. He is a much better batsman than he was the last time he played for England and he is best as a powerful opening batsman. His form just adds to the number of people looking over the shoulder of Keiswetter for a place on that plane

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