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Bell and Burns become unlikely Twenty20 powerhouses

Ian Bell bats for Birmingham Getty Images

Records continue to tumble in the T20 Blast. Friday night's run fest means that this is the highest-scoring Twenty20 tournament ever, ahead of the 2017/18 Super Smash and the 2018 IPL.

Surrey and Aaron Finch are leading the way, making their highest-ever T20 total (250 for 6) to follow scores of 192 and 222 last week. Somehow, Kent escaped with a point thanks to rain, and the playing conditions mean that the no-result won't affect their net run-rate - small mercies, perhaps, for Carlos Brathwaite, who took 0 for 55 in his final appearance for them.

And at Edgbaston, Birmingham Bears and Northants were involved in the highest-scoring tied game in T20 history, both sides making 231 for 5. It was the sixth-highest match aggregate of all-time, but only the second-highest scoring game Colin de Grandhomme has been involved in this year: he was part of the New Zealand side that failed to defend 243 against Australia in February, and his figures across the two games read 4.5-0-77-1.

Northants, meanwhile, have conceded 1134 runs in 104.5 overs this season, giving their bowlers a combined economy rate of 10.82: the injured Richard Gleeson has been a big miss. That tie is a pick-me-up, but they are still seeking their first win and remain rooted to the bottom of North Group.

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One of the most startling aspects of Twenty20 is how batsmen presumed to be designed for the four-day game suddenly find unexpected reserves of power.

Ian Bell's 131 not out off 62 balls against Northants was his first T20 hundred and ranked as the second highest T20 innings ever seen at Edgbaston. His golden summer has brought five hundreds across all formats and has even inviting speculation whether, at 36, he could make a shock return against India this summer - this after coming to terms with the fact that his England days were over.

Bell's strike rate of 157.69 for the Bears is outdone only by Ed Pollock and Colin de Grandhomme - and as they both lie in the all-time world top 10 there is no shame in that.

Rory Burns is also exploring new horizons at Surrey. He is striking at 167.78 leading Kumar Sankakkara to observe ruefully on Sky TV: "I can't call Rory Burns a plodder anymore."

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Somerset have got their Blast season back on track with back-to-back wins in the past two days, after losses to Kent and Gloucestershire.

It did not go unnoticed among the Taunton faithful that overseas players were key to their opponents' success in their opening defeats: Kent's Adam Milne and Carlos Brathwaite restricted Somerset to an under-par total in their win, and Andrew Tye's three wickets were crucial in the rain-affected game at Bristol.

Head coach Jason Kerr remained unconvinced that his side needed an overseas player, telling the Somerset County Gazette: "if we were to bring anyone in they would have to be world class".

Supporters could be forgiven for their bemusement, therefore, when 34-year-old Jamaican seamer Jerome Taylor signed for the rest of the group stage on Friday evening. While Taylor is capable of unplayable spells on his day, his T20 record is unspectacular, and his combined figures in the West Indies' series in New Zealand this winter were 8-0-94-3.

Perhaps Somerset's memories of Taylor stretch back to 2010 when they played in the West Indies domestic competition. In the group stage, their game against Jamaica was threatened by rain, but the groundstaff cleared the standing water to ensure a six-over slog.

Batting first, Jamaica made an imposing 85 for 1, before Somerset imploded: Taylor removed Jos Buttler in the first over, and Somerset limped to a scarcely believable total 24 for 8. Kerr will hope his new recruit can repeat the trick at Taunton.

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Our observation that home wins are in short supply will certainly strike a chord at Notts. They pulled in more than 13,000 at Trent Bridge for the visit of near-neighbours Leicestershire, only to lose their third home match in a row, failing in a run chase that their former England left-armer Harry Gurney admitted should have been manageable.

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Derbyshire finally got their Blast campaign up and running on Thursday night with a Calum MacLeod-inspired win at Northampton.

Only denied a first-ever Finals Day appearance by Shahid Afridi's quarter-final blitz last season, Derbyshire missed the injured Luis Reece's runs and the departed Imran Tahir's wickets in the first three games, and specialist T20 coach John Wright was under some pressure.

Wright's side finally came good against a struggling Northants, with MacLeod's 104 providing the backbone of their 211 for 2, before a well-drilled performance in the field led to a 31-run win.

But for all their polished plans, Derbyshire won few plaudits for their sartorial qualities. First, Billy Godleman, who had forgotten to bring his kit on the short journey down the M1, came out to bat wearing Lockie Ferguson's shirt, but with the name and number 69 creatively gaffa-taped up to leave his squad number, 1.

Ferguson himself shone with the ball in the Northants reply, taking 2 for 33 and reaching 93.6mph in his opening over. But he too was distinctly lacking in style, sporting some all-black footwear which one critic described on Twitter as "trainers from the school Lost Property box".