There are three more matches in the Vitality Blast on Thursday as the competition continues and moves into the second quarter of the group phase of the campaign. With both tables taking shape and teams up to speed we should be in for a decent day of cricket.
The Test match might be getting the TV attention but one of the three matches has been saved for TV coverage after play at Lord’s has finished. The other two matches will both be available via the county streams. We’ll start the preview with the TV game even though it is the last to begin.
Glamorgan vs Essex (19.05 – Sky Cricket)
Two sides who have had mixed starts to the season meet in the opening match of the campaign at Sophia Gardens when Glamorgan take on Essex with both teams hoping a couple of the bigger names continue to struggle to give them a better chance of reaching finals day.
Glamorgan have a win and two defeats from their opening two matches, although the losses have been to Middlesex and Surrey who are currently both undefeated this season so they’re not exactly terrible outcomes. Essex have two wins and a loss with the defeat to Somerset which doesn’t look as good after the way they were taken apart on Wednesday evening. You can question the strength of their two wins too as they came against Kent and Hampshire who are current P7 L7 between them this term. The interesting thing here is in all six matches these two have played the chasing side has been victorious which suggests a lack of quality at the death with the ball. I wouldn’t really want to play the match result here with that in mind, until we know the outcome of the toss at least.
Given that this is the first match on the ground this season it isn’t actually easy to judge the side markets either so my only bet on the match will come in the top Essex batter market where Matt Critchley looks overpriced at 5/1 for a number of reasons. The first one is that this is his home ground in The Hundred so he’ll know the pitch pretty well. He is also the leading run scorer for Essex in the competition and bats at a great position at number four, particularly with two youngsters above him in the top three. He’s also the third leading scorer in the Championship for Essex behind Alastair Cook and Nick Browne who won’t play this format of the game. He has already top scored at Taunton and made 45 in no time against Hampshire on Tuesday night so he’s in decent form and can top score here.
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Birmingham Bears vs Leicestershire (14.30)
The early start on Thursday comes from the North Group where Birmingham Bears will be looking to move back to the top of the table as they put their perfect start on the line against a Leicestershire side who haven’t really got going this term yet.
There is a dangerous element to Leicestershire as they showed against Yorkshire on Sunday, but there is also a fragile nature to both their batters and their bowlers, the former of which have already collapsed twice in the competition and the latter who have gone around the park a couple of times. Throw in that they only finished in Northampton around 9.30pm on Wednesday night and start this match 17 hours later and it is hard to see what Leicestershire have going for them. It isn’t so hard to see the threat Birmingham carry. They are looking mighty good with the bat and even better with the ball and it would be a surprise if they don’t win this match and win it well. That is perfectly reflected in the prices though so I’m happy to sit this one out.
Surrey vs Hampshire (18.30)
The other match in the South Group on Thursday evening comes from The Oval where the unbeaten Surrey side take on a Hampshire outfit who have lost all three of their matches and are clearly under pressure to end that losing streak.
It is hard to see how Hampshire change their fortunes here though. They haven’t just lost their opening three matches, they haven’t really been competitive at all and now they face a Surrey side who as I highlighted in my outright preview have an embarrassment of riches and are not surprisingly flying already. I don’t see anything but a Surrey win here. Hampshire have a terrible record on this ground anyway but the odds are very cramped for a home win.
There is a better value way in though which is Surrey to lead after six overs. They have Jason Roy and Will Jacks flaying away at the top of the order with Sam Curran and Laurie Evans next in. They can go hard because they have Chris Jordan and Jamie Overton at eight and nine and if they pick him Jordan Clark would be below that. Hampshire don’t have such a luxury. They have an out of form Aneurin Donald at the top of the order while their new ball bowlers aren’t that threatening. Surrey have an all-international attack which will keep the shackles on throughout. The other issue Hampshire are having is the inability Ben McDermott has to rotate the strike which means they stall in the powerplay. As a result Hampshire have powerplay scores of 44/2, 38/3 and 33/1. They’re not cutting the mustard against a team who have posted 51/2 and 74/2. Surrey should be well clear after six overs.
Back M.Critchley Top Essex Batter for a 1/10 stake at 6.00 with BetVictor
Back him here:
Back Surrey Highest 1st 6 overs vs Hampshire for a 4/10 stake at 1.80 with Bet365