The Vitality Blast begins on Wednesday evening with two matches taking place as both groups of the competition get up and running on the opening night, one which could immediately give us one or two clues about some of the leading contenders.
We finally have a TV game to enjoy over the course of the night while the other one will be shown in full via the county streams which have basically resembled TV coverage all season anyway, so there is no need to miss any of the action. We’ll begin the preview with the TV game.
Kent vs Somerset (19.00 – Sky Sports Cricket)
The opening televised game of the season is a repeat of the 2021 final as the champions Kent begin their title defence when they host the side they beat at Edgbaston in September in the form of a very good Somerset side.
Both these teams had stuttering starts to the season in the Championship but I expect them to come alive now that the coloured clothing gets donned and the white ball comes out. Kent look close to full strength for this match with Sam Billings returning from the IPL while Somerset look pretty strong as well so we should be in for a cracking contest. I fully intend to open up the play book in this tournament as we go along but I’m wary this is opening night so I’ll just take the one bet.
That comes in the form of over 329.5 runs. Canterbury has been a very high scoring ground in the Championship this season with Hampshire scoring more than 600 here and Lancashire putting 500 on the board and on a good pitch these two sides with oceans of batting depth can do some real damage. The two teams met here last year when Kent posted 168/8 and that got chased down with more than four overs to spare with Somerset not losing a wicket. Kent then posted 167 in the final which they defended but we should remember the wicket had had 100 overs of play on it by the time Somerset batted on it. I think both these teams are better with the bat than the ball so I like the over on that run line here.
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Yorkshire vs Worcestershire (18.30)
The other match on the opening night of the tournament comes from the North Group where Yorkshire play host to the former champions Worcestershire at what is likely to be a lively Headingley for the first white ball game of the season.
Yorkshire have recruited well with their overseas players and will be expected to go very well this season. I’ve already made the case for Worcestershire being dark horses in the outright preview but Yorkshire look to be getting the Rapids at the right time here. I say that because Moeen Ali and Dwayne Bravo are slow getting back from the IPL while Colin Munro isn’t available either so this is very much a weakened Worcestershire side taking to the field. It is still a team that contains the likes of Ed Pollock, Ben Cox and Pat Brown though so there is danger in the side. Yorkshire will be without David Willey and Jonny Bairstow but Joe Root and Harry Brook are available to play. You would think Yorkshire will be too strong in this one but at 4/9 I’m happy to let them win if they are good enough.
Back Kent vs Somerset – Over 329.5 runs for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365