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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
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.
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
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