There is one more spot at the Vitality Blast finals day up for grabs and it will be filled on Saturday evening when the last quarter final is played out. That sees Gloucestershire taking on Derbyshire for the first to join Essex, Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire at Edgbaston on September 21.
Gloucestershire secured a home quarter final courtesy of wonderful wins at Kent and Sussex to end the group stage while Derbyshire picked up a very impressive victory at Lancashire in their final group game to secure third spot in the North Group.
Our pre-tournament pick have made it safely through to the quarter final stage despite not being at their best throughout the campaign. They took a while to hit full speed but quite often it is more important to finish the group stage well rather than start it that way and we’ve seen that with a few teams already this week. There is no doubt Gloucestershire take their best form in the competition into this quarter final with them.
You always fancy Gloucestershire to go well with the ball with their canny bowlers being tough to score on in any conditions and the longer the summer goes on the more that should be the case. We saw that when they won the 50 over competition which was later in the summer a few years ago and we could see history repeat itself here. Importantly their key batsmen have found form at the right time and they look a tough nut to crack now.
We are heading into unknown territory for Derbyshire. This is only the third time that Derbyshire have made it into the quarter finals and they were absolutely battered the last time they were here by Hampshire a few years ago. Derbyshire are now the only side never to have made it to finals day, a monkey they will be desperate to get off their back by winning this match. That brings a pressure with it but on the flip side of that, they are away and not expected to win so they can play with some freedom.
Derbyshire have reached this stage courtesy of their batsmen delivering the goods. When they were skittled for 94 by Leicestershire with four matches to go the future in the competition looked bleak for them but a washout gave them time to recover their poise and they’ve lost just five wickets in three matches since then. Their bowlers have helped as well and all of a sudden they look a half-decent unit.
Gloucestershire have spent the second half of the group stage without key man Benny Howell and he is missing here too. Andrew Tye and Michael Klinger are both around while Matt Taylor will be looking for a chance.
Derbyshire are able to name a strong squad themselves with veterans Ravi Rampaul and Darren Stevens merged in with good solid players such as Wayne Madsen and Billy Godleman. Logan van Beek is still around.
I think we’re in for a bit of a tight quarter final here given what it means to both sides and my first bet in it is for there to be fewer than 327.5 runs. These two teams rely a little too much on their top three or four for my liking and while there is a bit of hitting down below them they don’t tend to come off against decent death bowlers which these two teams possess. There has been a lot of cricket at Bristol this summer so I’m not expecting the most fluent wicket in the world which will bring the spinners and the slower bowlers into play. Derbyshire’s middle order have barely batted in the middle for three weeks which is a concern if they lose early wickets. There’s more than enough to think 328 runs is a few too many to expect here.
One of the reasons why Derbyshire have kicked on and secured a quarter final spot is the form of Wayne Madsen. He has two 50s in his last three innings and looks to be coming into this match peaking at the right time. Madsen will have good memories of this ground with a double ton here in the Championship earlier in the season and so I’ve got to think he’ll go beyond 21.5 runs here. His last nine T20 scores have been 28, 59*, 30, 66, 18*, 6, 51*, 37* and 69. He’s in decent touch and I expect him to get to 22 in a match where his side need him to deliver.
I wonder if Gloucestershire can win this match without a contribution from Michael Klinger. If we think of the last two nights a common theme has been the class act in the side delivering the goods with Alex Hales and Moeen Ali standing out among equals and I fancy we might see Klinger doing that here too. The Australian took an absolute age to get up and running this season but he is very much there now. His last four scores have been 40, 74, 102* and 48 and if he builds on that here may well be the man of the match in a winning cause.
WON – Back Under 327.5 runs for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365
WON – Back W.Madsen – Over 21.5 runs for a 4/10 stake at 1.85 with BetVictor
Back M.Klinger Man of the Match for a 1/10 stake at 9.00 with Betfair
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