The big day of the county season has arrived with the Vitality Blast finals day taking place at Edgbaston on Saturday. Four teams remain but only one side will lift the trophy on a long day in which both semi-finals and the final will be played out at the Birmingham venue.
A day such as finals day cannot start without a few bets so we’ll go through the three markets that are available here. At the time of writing unfortunately only Betway have priced up batsmen and bowler markets but we’ll go through those and the outright one.
Four teams will do battle for the cup with Worcestershire, Lancashire, Sussex and Somerset looking to emulate Nottinghamshire and be crowned champions. Worcestershire take on Lancashire in the first semi-final while Sussex and Somerset meet in the second so we are guaranteed a North vs South final.
Worcestershire will be appearing in their first finals day but they powered their way to this stage and having Moeen Ali back to lead the side is a huge positive. They have an underrated bowling attack but some key players come into the day with injury clouds hanging over them. Everything will need to go right for the Rapids to win the title, especially without Callum Ferguson, but they will be the neutrals favourites.
Lancashire have been to finals day plenty of times and were winners here in 2015 having lost in the final in 2014. A number of the 2015 squad remains with the side with the likes of Karl Brown, Alex Davies, Steven Croft and James Faulkner all key players. The case for Lancashire is a pretty easy one to make especially with Jos Buttler and Keaton Jennings back in their ranks. They look the ones to beat.
Sussex are touted as potential champions before a ball was bowled in this tournament and they are at the final party ready to justify those predictions. Much of their hype was over Rashid Khan and he is not at finals day. Sussex have comfortably the weakest batting line up of the four but the likes of Danny Briggs, Chris Jordan and Jofra Archer more than make up for that. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Sussex go all the way but you can pick more holes in them than some of the others.
Somerset strolled to top spot in the South Group and then overpowered a decent Nottinghamshire side in the quarter finals so they set the standard heading to finals day. A concern would be that their batting has fallen in a heap in the Championship in the last couple of weeks but the likes of Corey Anderson, Johann Myburgh and Peter Trego will pep that up. Five of their bowlers have double figures for wickets this season. No other team at finals day can boast that.
There used to be a bias over the first semi-final winners winning the competition but that has levelled out in recent times so it is literally a case of picking the best side on the day. The case for Lancashire is an obvious one but Somerset have set the standard this season and I think they can close the deal. They bat deep and have all bases covered with the ball as well. Lancashire might need the wicket to dry out to win a final but Somerset won’t. They look the best bet to me.
Credit to Betway for pricing up this market and the bowler one. Rules are simple for picking a player to target here. We’re looking for someone who will play two matches and get two innings so someone in the top 3-4 in one of the finalists is the way forward. I think we’re on course for a Lancashire vs Somerset final so I’ll act on that.
Nobody at finals day has more runs this season than Alex Davies and as luck would have it he will bat in the top four for Lancashire. He has 525 runs for the tournament so far and goes into the day off the back of a decent knock at Yorkshire in the Championship in the week. Days like this are made for players like Davies as he showed in the final in 2015 when he was the man of the match in the final. At 16/1 he’s my pick here.
The same rules apply in the top bowler market. We’re looking for someone to play the two matches because taking enough wickets in one dig is unlikely given the tightness of the differential between wickets.
Pat Brown is the leading wicket taker in the tournament but if Worcestershire get knocked out in the semi-final he is a sitting duck. Matt Parkinson is the second favourite but I’m already on him to be the top bowler for the tournament so I don’t need to back him again. Jamie Overton has 24 wickets in the tournament but Jerome Taylor is only six wickets behind having played five fewer matches. He’ll have the new ball and he’ll bowl at the death. Dew later in the evening could put paid to the spinners so at 14/1 Taylor looks like a good alternative to me.
Back Somerset to win Vitality Blast for a 2/10 stake at 3.75 with Coral
Back A.Davies Top Finals Day Batsman (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 17.00 with Betway (1/4 1-3)
PLACED – Back J.Taylor Top Finals Day Bowler (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 15.00 with Betway (1/5 1-3)