The Vitality Blast continues with a full round of fixtures on Friday on a day which you sense is a big one for a few of the fancied runners and riders who have just lost their way a little over the last few days.
Eight matches take place over the course of the day and even though the Test match is on there is one match saved for the TV. The other seven matches will all be available on the county live streams and a couple of them could certainly be worth watching.
It is the North Group where the TV match comes along on Friday evening when an improving Derbyshire host a Nottinghamshire side who have lost their way a little in the last week or so. The pick of the matches on Friday comes from Old Trafford where the leaders Lancashire play host to third placed Northamptonshire in a match where the ball is sure to end up with a headache! Birmingham Bears sit in second despite their first loss on Thursday. They get the action underway when they head to New Road to take on Worcestershire for whom it is now or never after four defeats to open their campaign. Yorkshire play host to Durham in the other match.
Surrey powered to the top of the South Group table on Thursday night when they demolished Hampshire and they now face the other side in the section without a win when they head to Canterbury to play Kent. Middlesex are the other unbeaten team in the group and they put that record on the line when they go to Hove to take on a Sussex team who might have turned the corner in the last week or so. The other two members of the top four meet in Taunton when Somerset welcome Glamorgan to the County Ground. Gloucestershire host Essex in the other match.
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TV Match Betting
I’ll go with a couple of bets over the course of the TV game where the hosts might not have the reputation of their visitors but there is nothing in the form of the two teams that suggests the odds should be so disparaging. Derbyshire have beaten Leicestershire and Yorkshire, the latter in an eight over game but they have some momentum. Their defeats have been to Birmingham and Lancashire, two tough teams to play and they lost those matches by three runs and 17 runs so they were competitive. Those were high scoring matches and it will be interesting to see if Nottinghamshire can go toe to toe with Derbyshire in the run scoring department. History would say they would because they have a fearsome batting line up but their last two scores have been 140/6 in 18 overs against Northants and 91 all out against Lancashire. There appears to be a shortage of confidence and form in the Outlaws batting. I’d still have Nottinghamshire favourites but Derbyshire feel overpriced to me.
Another price that is big in this match is the 10/1 on Samit Patel to top score for Nottinghamshire. Admittedly he has only got going in one of his three matches so far but that was the highest score for the Outlaws this season. Joe Clarke has the other 50 they have made this term but his other two scores have been single figures and Alex Hales hasn’t got going yet either. Ben Duckett has 41 runs in three matches so the three players who bat above Samit are all out of form. Clearly 10/1 on someone who bats four is huge anyway but Derbyshire will send down a fair amount of spin through the middle overs and there aren’t many better players of spin in the English game than Patel so if Derbyshire can find a way of keeping the Notts openers quiet Patel could well be the one to capitalise.
Other Match Betting
I’ll take two others over the course of the day with the first of them coming in the form of a bolstered Worcestershire to beat local rivals Birmingham Bears. The Bears come into this match off the back of a loss to Leicestershire on Thursday and although the toss was a huge factor in that match on a pitch which was being used for the third time, I still have concerns over the Bears. Their batting looks a little light without Sam Hain and while they have Paul Stirling and Chris Benjamin who can blitz an opposition you need some solidity in the order and I’m not sure there is enough of that. Worcestershire have started the season poorly but they were always going to until Moeen Ali and Dwayne Bravo arrived for action. They play for the first time this season here and they should keep a control on the run rate which is what Worcestershire have been lacking. The Rapids have posted 172/9 against Yorkshire, 164/9 against Nottinghamshire and 171/8 against Lancashire so they don’t have any issues scoring runs. If the two senior men can give them an extra pep with the ball, which they should do, then Worcestershire can get off the mark against a side who are a batter light.
The other bet I’ll take is Sussex to beat Middlesex. I’ll give Middlesex the credit they deserve for their start to the season which has seen them win their opening three matches but there has been a fair bit of fortune in a couple of those wins. They were the beneficiaries of one of the best innings you’ll see from Steven Eskinazi in their opening match and then in their second one Hampshire had them beat but faltered at the finish line. I’m just not convinced their attack is good enough to sustain a charge, even allowing for Jason Behrendorff coming in. He doesn’t do anything the Sussex batters won’t have seen before. Sussex have won their last two matches and while Mohammad Rizwan disappearing isn’t a good thing, it has allowed Josh Philippe to go back to opening and that move had an instant impact at Taunton on Wednesday evening. Obed McCoy is a brilliant death bowler and Tymal Mills looks to be up to speed now as well so if the likes of Steve Finn, who’ll know the opposition very well, and the spinners can keep the top order in check the death experts can lead Sussex to another win here.
Back Derbyshire to beat Nottinghamshire for a 3/10 stake at 2.88 with Boylesports
Back them here:
Back S.Patel Top Nottinghamshire Batter for a 1/10 stake at 11.00 with Betway
Back Worcestershire to beat Birmingham Bears for a 3/10 stake at 1.80 with Coral
Back them here:
Back Sussex to beat Middlesex for a 3/10 stake at 2.00 with Betfair