The last night of Vitality Blast action before another week off for one more round of County Championship fixtures takes place on Friday evening and with us in the closing stages of the group phase it promises to be a huge night for a number of teams.
We have a full round of games on Friday and despite the Test match being on we have one saved for the TV afterwards. The other seven matches will all be on the streams and the ECB app has a round the grounds show too for those who want the key bits from everywhere.
The TV game comes from the North Group on Friday evening as the Birmingham Bears look to strengthen their quarter final claims when they welcome arch-rivals Worcestershire to an Edgbaston that should contain a pretty big crowd. It is Lancashire who are top of the table and they will secure a quarter final spot if they come away from their trip to Derbyshire with a win. Derbyshire will be sitting ducks to the chasing pack in the race for the quarter finals if they lose. The biggest match of the night might well come from Wantage Road where third placed Northamptonshire host fifth placed Yorkshire with just one point separating the two heading into the evening. The other match is a dead rubber which sees Durham playing host to Nottinghamshire.
It is a massive night in the South Group as well on Friday. Surrey have already secured a quarter final spot and they’ll ensure they host that last eight clash if they rebound from their first loss of the season to win at Essex. Essex are in third in the table and with a queue of sides ready to close in on them losing isn’t an option for the Eagles. The big match comes from Bristol where fourth host fifth as Gloucestershire welcome Hampshire with just net run rate separating the two sides in the race for the quarter finals. Somerset are still in pole position in the race for second and a home quarter final and they go to Cardiff to take on a Glamorgan who know only a win will keep their last eight hopes alive. Kent and Sussex were eliminated a while ago but they’ll face off in a dead rubber at Canterbury in the other game.
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TV Match Betting
The TV match on Friday sees the Birmingham Bears heavy favourites to beat the Worcestershire Rapids but while Worcestershire have been terrible this season, it is probably worth noting that their sole win in the competition came against their rivals at New Road when actually they put in a very good display. Worcestershire have Moeen Ali back for this match and apart from Jack Haynes who is injured they look close to full strength. Birmingham will be without Paul Stirling so they are going to need to rejig their order so I certainly don’t think the home side are certainties and definitely no value at 1/2. The better bet comes in the sixes where the 10.5 line looks very low.
One week from today Edgbaston will be hosting a Test match against India and the work on that pitch will already be underway so there is no way this match will be in the middle of the square, especially with a T20 international following that Test match. That means the pitch used for this game will be nearer the side of the square so there is going to be a short boundary to one side, and I’d imagine the other side it will be brought in for the purposes of entertainment and will be where Sky stick their pod. There are a number of big hitters on both these teams and we’ve seen all competition that they can go round bigger parks than I expect this Edgbaston playing area to be. I’m comfortable to be on over 10.5 sixes here.
I’ll also throw a shot in the dark on Kashif Ali to be the leading scorer for Worcestershire. He top scored in another tame loss to Yorkshire last time out and although the Yorkshire attack isn’t anything special, I’m not convinced this Bears one is either. The obvious difference here is that Moeen Ali is in the Worcestershire line up so there is a risk the top score will have gone before Kashif gets in but at the same time Moeen hasn’t done much in the matches he has played in this competition and Worcestershire are where they are for a reason. He has scored 24 and 46 in his last two innings, both of which were top scores, so at 14/1 I’ll pay to see if he completes the hat trick.
Other Match Betting
There were a couple of bets I’d have liked to get involved in elsewhere but the lines are just a little on the high side with not as much wiggle room as I would have liked there to be so in the end I’ll settle for just the one which comes in the form of Glamorgan to beat Somerset. Somerset head across the Severn Bridge having lost their last two matches, and while losses to Surrey and Hampshire are far from the worst results in the world, it might just have brought them down a peg or two.
I always mention the backing up a performance the night before and Somerset didn’t finish their loss to Hampshire until around 10.15pm local time so won’t have left the ground much before midnight and then have to play 18 hours later and Taunton to Cardiff isn’t exactly walking distance. Glamorgan know they have to win this match to stay alive in the competition and had a good win last time out. There are other reasons to oppose Somerset here though. They are at their best on pitches where their big hitting top three or four can hit through the line with comfort. They won’t get that luxury on these Cardiff pitches which apart from when Middlesex were in town earlier in the week have been low scoring and hard to score on. The other reason is Rilee Rousouw took a bang on the knee on Thursday night and wouldn’t be certain to appear here. Glamorgan have won their last two and will be suited to the conditions and look a big price here.
Back Birmingham Bears vs Worcestershire – Over 10.5 sixes for a 5/10 stake at 1.75 with BetVictor
Back K.Ali Top Worcestershire Batter for a 1/10 stake at 15.00 with BetVictor
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Back Glamorgan to beat Somerset for a 3/10 stake at 2.38 with Boylesports
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