We might be heading towards the business end of the group stage of the Vitality Blast but that doesn’t mean the weird ECB scheduling can’t squeeze another round of LV County Championship matches in first and they get going on Sunday.
This round of matches represent the halfway mark for some of those counties in action while for others the second half of the campaign begins. The Women’s Ashes Test is getting the TV attention so it is the county streams which will provide full coverage of these matches.
Someone’s 0 might have to go in Division One this week as the two remaining unbeaten teams collide at The Oval where Surrey look to build on that ridiculous run chase last time out when they host a Lancashire who have drawn five of their opening six matches. Warwickshire looked like they were going to make ground on Surrey in the last set of games but saw those hopes dashed. They head to Chelmsford to take on Essex while Hampshire in third welcome lowly Middlesex to the Ageas Bowl. The bottom two are in action in one of the other matches when Northamptonshire host Kent in a key match while Somerset take on Nottinghamshire.
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Two of the top three battle it out at the Riverside where the leaders Durham play host to third placed Leicestershire who will be hoping that a dismal T20 campaign doesn’t impact their Championship form. In between those two sit Sussex and they make the trip to Cardiff to take on Glamorgan while Worcestershire will look to continue their promotion push when they host bottom of the pile Derbyshire. The other match sees Yorkshire and Gloucestershire looking to resurrect indifferent opening halves of the season when they meet up at Headingley.
As with the last round of matches in this competition I’m not going to go too mad here because the time to hone red ball skills after focusing on the white ball stuff just isn’t anywhere near long enough for genuine cricket logic to apply. There is one bet that I like though and that comes at Wantage Road where Northamptonshire host Kent and I think the visitors can win this one at 4/5 and give their survival hopes a boost.
Both these teams have had a good week in the Vitality Blast but there are a lot more red ball specialists in this Kent side in the likes of Ben Compton, Arshdeep Singh, Matt Quinn and Harry Finich who have been able to work solely on their red ball skills which is something Northamptonshire don’t really have the luxury of. I’ve worried for this Northants batting all season and if Ben Sanderson doesn’t shine with the ball the team can struggle. Kent outplayed Surrey in the last round of matches but couldn’t put them away. That was down to fourth innings centuries from Dom Sibley, Ben Foakes and Jamie Smith and with no disrespect to Northants there is nothing of that class in their batting. Kent have two international bowlers which I really like and I think they get the job done here.
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