The Vitality Blast has two nights of action left before the break to bring the Championship back into the picture and the first of those comes along on Thursday evening when five more matches will be placed across the two groups.
The England ODI has got the TV treatment on Thursday which means that if you want to watch any of these matches you’ll have to head to the county streams. As we keep saying though they are top class so that isn’t a huge downgrade.
The defending champions Nottinghamshire have the chance to take control of the North Group on Thursday evening. They are already on top of the pile and can move two points clear and with the best run rate when they entertain a Leicestershire side who are bottom of the table, although their performances have been better than their record suggests. The other match sees Lancashire and Worcestershire looking to enhance their qualification hopes when they meet at Old Trafford.
That leaves three matches in the South Group and with the leaders Surrey not in action a couple of counties have the chance to close in on them. Second placed Kent aren’t in action either so Gloucestershire have the opportunity to move back to the top of the table when they play host to a Somerset side who are showing a little too much inconsistency. If Gloucestershire slip up in that one then Sussex can hit top spot if they can pick up a win at Lord’s when they take on an average Middlesex side. The other match comes from Chelmsford where Essex and Glamorgan meet in the hope of forcing their way into the qualifying picture.
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I’ll go with a couple of bets on Thursday evening with the first of those coming from down at Bristol where I think Gloucestershire can come out on top in their derby with Somerset. Somerset looked very good earlier in the week in beating Kent but then like so many sides so they slipped up the following night at Essex and now they have lost Tom Banton to England ODI duty. He scored a ton in that win over Kent so even though James Hildreth returns here that is a big blow. Gloucestershire lost two of their opening three matches but have won four and had a couple of washouts since then so they are a team in form, helped massively by the amazing form of Glenn Phillips. I backed Gloucestershire to win this title as more than a dark horse and I like them to win here too.
Worcestershire have already beaten Lancashire this season so they feel a little overpriced to go and repeat the feat up at Old Trafford. That win over Lancashire earlier in the campaign was when Liam Livingstone and Jos Buttler were in the Lancashire ranks but they are away with England now and Lancashire’s form has slumped as a result of that. They have lost three and tied the other of their last four completed matches so confidence could be an issue. They might also have more than half an eye on the Roses clash on Thursday as well. Worcestershire are going fairly well despite a horror performance at Nottinghamshire a few games ago. Only the top two sides have beaten Worcestershire this term and given that Lancashire aren’t playing like one of those I’ll chance the Rapids here.
Back Gloucestershire to beat Somerset for a 3/10 stake at 1.87 with Betway
Back Worcestershire to beat Lancashire for a 3/10 stake at 2.20 with Coral