The first quarter final of the NatWest T20 Blast takes place on Monday evening when the Nottinghamshire Outlaws host the Essex Eagles with the winners heading to Edgbaston for Finals Day in just under two weeks’ time.
Nottinghamshire made it into this quarter final by virtue of winning the North Group while Essex sneaked through to the last eight in fourth place in the South Group by a single point on the final night of the league phase.
It took a little while for Nottinghamshire to get going in the tournament this season but then Andre Russell arrived for a little spell and they haven’t looked back since then. I think the other one day competition beginning when it did helped them and once they started motoring the brakes were never applied once.
Largely it has been with the bat that Nottinghamshire have been winning matches with Michael Lumb, Riki Wessels and Dan Christian all contributing brilliantly at various times but their bowling attack shouldn’t go without focus with Harry Gurney and Imran Tahir as good as anything in the world at what they do.
Essex are one of just two sides who could win a domestic treble this season. Yorkshire are the other ones. That is unlikely of course but they are top of the County Championship and they head to Edgbaston in the Royal London One Day Cup so that highlights the quality of cricket they have been playing this season.
We come to expect Essex to be good with the bat given the quality and depth they have in that department with international class such as Jesse Ryder, Ryan ten Doeschate and Ravi Bopara in their ranks but the way they have managed themselves with the ball is what has really caught the eye so far.
Nottinghamshire have Jake Ball back from England duty for this match and he is likely to slot into the bowling attack somewhere. Dan Christian and Imran Tahir are the overseas players for this match.
Essex have just come off the back of a four day Championship game where they didn’t rest anyone but unless they picked up an undeclared injury in that match they should be at full strength here.
There have been five completed matches on this ground in this tournament and remarkably they have all been won by the chasing side. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues with this being a knockout match and runs on the board creating scoreboard pressure.
First innings scores here so far this season have ranged from 124 to 184 but whatever has been set has been chased. The boundaries have flown here too with exactly 48 boundaries in three of the five matches here with the sixes totals soaring into double figures in four of the five games. I’m expecting another high scoring match here.
I fancy there might be plenty of nerves around this match. This is the sixth time in seven years that Nottinghamshire have escaped the group but they have only made it to one finals day in that time while Essex are in their fifth successive quarter final and they too have only gone to the big day once so quarter finals aren’t often kind to these two. This one will be kind to someone.
If I had to choose a match winner I would go for Essex at odds against, they are the side with the less pressure and expectation on them and that could be significant but that isn’t the way I’m going in this match. I’m heading for the side markets.
The market in question is the boundaries where the line is 37.5 and based on the history on this ground that looks a little low to me. We know there is always a short boundary at Trent Bridge since that new stand was put in and with the Sky pod around as well it is likely to be in somewhere else as well which should assist the boundaries.
There are some massive hitters on show in this match from Lumb and Wessels to Ryder, Westley, Bopara, ten Doeschate, Christian, Zaidi – the list is absolutely endless. Both bowling attacks like to attack but that can lead to balls being there to hit. I fancy this to be a bit of a crazy match and 38 boundaries are well within reach.
I’ll also chance one in the top Essex batsman market where the four day captain Ryan ten Doeschate is just too big in a match like this. He comes in here off the back of an 80 and a ton in the Championship in the lead up to the match and we’ve seen time and time again how much of a master he is of pacing run chases and T20 innings. Big games require big players and there aren’t many bigger than the Dutchman. At 13/1 he’s probably double the price he should be.
Back Over 37.5 boundaries for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with William Hill
Back R.ten Doeschate Top Essex Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 14.00 with Paddy Power
Back him here: