After a week off for the County Championship, the Vitality Blast returns on Friday evening and with the group stage beginning to come to the boil we have a full card on a night that will be as important as it will be hot.
The ODI takes up most of the TV coverage on Friday but there is still time for a Blast match on the box. The others will all be available on the county streams as long as the technology doesn’t melt in the intense heat.
It is a big night in the North Group where the headline encounter comes from Wantage Road where the top two meet as Northamptonshire host the leaders Lancashire with the winners as good as through to the quarter finals. Birmingham Bears are tracking the top two and they head to Trent Bridge to take on a Nottinghamshire side who have to start winning now if they are going to make it to the knockout stages. Yorkshire are the other team in the top four and they go to a Durham side who have flattered to deceive so far. Leicestershire host Worcestershire in the other match in this group.
It is here where the TV coverage comes from as the leaders Surrey are in action at a sold out The Oval when they welcome Middlesex across the river for the second London derby of the season. The big game in this section though comes from Taunton where second placed Somerset host local rivals Gloucestershire who are in fourth spot. Essex resume their campaign in third place in the table and they play host to Sussex who were the victims of that incredible loss a week ago. The other match comes from the Ageas Bowl where Hampshire look for a fifth win in a row when they welcome the champions Kent whose title hopes are over with another loss.
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TV Match Betting
As with the reverse meeting between Surrey and Middlesex, I’m not going to bet on the match winner because I fully expect Surrey to be too good however this time around they are without their top scorer in that match and two competent bowlers in Jason Roy, Sam Curran and Reece Topley who are all on international duty. That might give Middlesex more of a shout in this match but I still don’t fancy backing them.
I do like a couple of top bats though. I just wonder if Surrey will shove Sunil Narine up to open the batting with Jason Roy away for the next week. He has opened plenty of times in T20 cricket and it would allow them to have a left and right hander at the top of the order. It might be that Rory Burns comes in and opens but he tends to bat in the middle order when he plays in T20 cricket. He smacked 25 off 15 balls at Lord’s and if he opens 10/1 would be huge.
I was a run shy of collecting a monster price on Chris Green in the reverse meeting between these two and amazingly he is a bigger price here so I’m lured into taking him again. Steven Eskinazi was the top scorer in the reverse match but he followed that up with 4 in his next match and two average scored in the Championship in the week. Green offered nothing at Essex last week either but Middlesex were chasing more than 12 an over at the time. If he comes in with a more favourable combination here he could deliver the goods.
Other Match Betting
Yorkshire were always going to be a side who were going to be impacted this week when the England one day squad were in action and that looks to be the case with Dawid Malan, David Willey and Adil Rashid away in Holland. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow are with the Test side so although Harry Brook is available and Shadab Khan is back from international duty I still think Yorkshire look vulnerable, especially with the ball. Durham have their captain Ashton Turner back for the match on Friday evening and although Brydon Carse being with England isn’t helpful, he only had five wickets all season and has gone at nine an over. Yorkshire chased down 208 in the reverse meeting but David Willey smoked 75 off 39 in that game and Carse bowled four overs for 50 so Durham might have come out of the England call ups better based on that. There was also no Turner that night and Nathan Sowter has arrived since then too. That makes me think there is enough reason to take Durham to get their revenge in this one.
Lancashire are the other team who have been impacted by international call ups. To be fair, they were probably hurt more than they would have expected with Luke Wood called up as well as Phil Salt and Liam Livingstone. Those two would have been favourites to go but the absence of Wood, particularly when you consider Saqib Mahmood is injured, just leaves Lancashire looking a little light in the seam department, which with Chris Lynn in the form he is in might not be ideal. Lancashire went to Durham last Friday without Liam Livingstone and were bowled out for 130. They had Phil Salt that day so that is ominous. These two met at Old Trafford earlier in the season and Lancashire got home off the last ball on a day where Livingstone and Wood bowled eight overs 2/48 and Salt made 37. There was no Lynn that day either. Since then Northamptonshire have won three on the spin and are in front of a sold out crowd here potentially with Lynn back. That makes me think they can reverse fortunes with Lancashire too.
Back S.Narine Top Surrey Batter for a 1/10 stake at 11.00 with William Hill
Back him here:
Back C.Green Top Middlesex Batter for a 1/10 stake at 51.00 with Betway
Back Durham to beat Yorkshire for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with Coral
Back them here:
Back Northamptonshire to beat Lancashire for a 3/10 stake at 2.30 with Bet365