The 2021 Vitality Blast season gets underway on Wednesday when four matches take place up and down the country, as a huge summer of white ball cricket starts out under what should be clear and sunny skies.
There is a lot at stake this season with spare places in The Hundred up for grabs as well as possible spots in the squad for the World T20 later in the year, so we should be in for plenty of competitive cricket throughout the competition. One of the four games gets the TV treatment but the live streams are perfectly good enough for the other three.
We begin with a couple of matches in the North Group and that is where the televised action comes from as Nottinghamshire get their title defence underway. They make the shortish trip to New Road to take on the 2018 champions Worcestershire, who have plenty of star talent and pedigree at their disposal. That is actually the second match of the day though because it is Lancashire and Derbyshire who get the tournament started earlier in the day.
That means there are a couple of matches in the South Group as well on Wednesday evening. They begin in Taunton where the 2019 winners Essex make the long trip to take on a Somerset side who have plenty of firepower in their ranks. Shortly after that one begins the final match of the day to commence does so when Canterbury plays host to two former winners of this competition in the form of the Kent Spitfires and the Hampshire Hawks.
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TV Match Betting
I looked at the exotic markets for the TV matches but there are plenty of those over the course of the competition and most of the markets are up for all the games with the quality of the live streams so I’m going to ease my way into the tournament and just bet on the main match winner market for this opening match. I actually happen to think the home side Worcestershire are a little overpriced and could be value to knock off the defending champions.
Nottinghamshire won the title last year but from that side they will be without Dan Christian and Imad Wasim and there is no Harry Gurney anymore either. Christian might not normally be considered a massive loss given where he bats but he is the captain so that isn’t ideal. That leaves them with just Dane Paterson as an overseas player and a few youngsters in their squad. The other issue I have with them is four or five of their batsmen are better off opening but only two can open the batting. Worcestershire look a nicely balanced outfit to me, especially with Moeen Ali in their squad. They have strengthened their bowling attack with the addition of Ben Dwarshuis and Ish Sodhi so the absence of Pat Brown might not be felt as much as it usually would. Moeen can win any game at this level on his own and at 5/4 I’ll go with the Rapids here.
There is only one other bet that I like on Wednesday and that comes down at Canterbury where I expect a full strength Hampshire side to take advantage of numerous absentees in the Kent team to get the better of the Spitfires. Kent will go into this match without either of their overseas players with Qais Ahmad not here until the weekend and Adam Milne only just signed and not in place yet. Those two go with the likes of Zak Crawley and Sam Billings who are both with England and Heino Kuhn who is injured.
That is a lot for a pretty light in depth Kent squad to be missing and we’ve seen them struggle in the Championship without their key players so even though they still have the likes of Daniel Bell-Drummond, Joe Denly and Alex Blake at their disposal there are holes in this Kent side. You usually worry about Hampshire with the bat in this competition so the signing of D’Arcy Short is a welcome one and he along with the likes of James Vince, Sam Northeast and Liam Dawson give them a very solid look at the top of the order. Kyle Abbott, Chris Wood and Mason Crane are strong bowling options at this level too so Hampshire look deserved favourites in this one.
Back Worcestershire to beat Nottinghamshire for a 3/10 stake at 2.25 with Coral
Back Hampshire to beat Kent for a 3/10 stake at 1.80 with William Hill
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