T20 Blast Preview: Will the Birmingham Bears upset the reigning champions?


The Vitality Blast got off to a fast start yesterday with Somerset, Middlesex and Worcestershire picking up vital victories to get their seasons up and running.

Later though we have seven exciting fixtures which froth at the tongue, including current champions Worcestershire Rapids looking to build on a brilliant victory last night against the Outlaws.

Worcestershire Rapids vs Birmingham Bears

The Rapids are looking to pick up a win with Ben Cox (last year’s hero), Moeen Ali and Pat Brown the key men for the Midlands side, and they all performed well in their 28-run victory yesterday. Martin Guptill also features for the hosts after a disappointing 2019 Cricket World Cup. His New Zealand side came second in the tournament but he struggled to find form averaging just 20.7.

The Bears boast the exuberant class of Ian Bell, who third top scored in last years’ edition with 589 runs. Dom Sibley and Sam Hain are excellent young talents too, and if needed they can call on the current internationals in Chris Woakes and Olly Stone, who both feature in England’s test squad to face Ireland this month.

At New Road it is usually a decent batting surface with grassy assistance for the seamers. This will be an even match, with the hosts being the victor for me.

Yorkshire Vikings vs Notts Outlaws

Notts will certainly be looking to redeem themselves after a less than inspiring performance at Trent Bridge yesterday, and face the tough challenge of Yorkshire at Headingley later on.

Alex Hales looked in good nick yesterday but threw his wicket away, and the Yorkshire bowling attack of Steve Patterson, Duanne Olivier and David Willey will certainly look to exploit a less than stable batting unit.

Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance and Tom Kohler-Cadmore will also provide a solid and controllably explosive batting foundation. It has to be Yorkshire.

Gloucestershire vs Glamorgan

The hosts had a decent campaign in this limited overs competition last term, finishing fourth in the south group (being knocked out by the eventual winners), with Glamorgan finishing two places below them in an indifferent season.

Gloucestershire’s men to watch have to be veteran skipper Michael Klinger, who like a fine wine seems better as it ages and at 39, he will prove pivotal for the College Ground side. Andrew Tye has also been drafted in and he could provide vital limited overs experience and death bowling prowess.

The Welsh side include an array of multi-dimensional domestic players, such as Chris Cooke, Jeremy Lawlor and Tom Salter. The MVP has to be Colin Ingram though, another veteran with white-ball wizardry. He averaged 50 in both limited overs formats last season, and was named in the Pakistan Super League Team of the Tournament.

Durham Jets vs Northants Steelbacks

The Jets also reached the Quarter Finals last year, with Northamptonshire having a torrid time of it, picking up only five points in the 14 match group phase.

Durham should be confident based on this and the fact they play at Chester-Le-Street should play to their advantage too. With a side that could include sandpaper-gate victim Cameron Bancroft, it will be interesting to see his reception at grounds up and down the country. Although he is not as big a scapegoat as the likes of David Warner and Steve Smith.

The visitors will hope to fight back and with an arsenal of the powerful Richard Levi, Josh Cobb and Ben Curran (yes, another Curran) they will look to cause an upset in a northern clash at the Riverside.

Leicestershire Foxes vs Lancashire Lightning

Two sides who missed out last year in terms of the knockout phase, both will be eager to return to the big time in 2019.

Featuring former England opener Keaton Jennings, Aussie super-finisher Glenn Maxwell and Kiwi veteran James Faulkner in their ranks, the Roses will placed in good stead for qualifying this time out. They are notably missing Liam Livingstone and Jimmy Anderson through injury.

The side from Grace Road are looking stronger this year, with skipper Mo Abbas returning to the side after injury early in the campaign. The track should favour the Foxes so I expect them to come on top.

Essex Eagles vs Surrey

The Eagles were another side defeated yesterday, at the hands of Middlesex who chased down Essex’s set total of 164.

Surrey will be looking to begin their campaign with a victory, but face a stern test at Chelmsford with the dominating Ryan ten Doeschate in destructive form yesterday with 74*.

Surrey have their own firepower though, in particular with the ball with two of the Curran brothers, Liam Plunkett and Morne Morkel providing an internationally acclaimed challenge to the Essex batsmen.

Surrey will just scrape this one, with their bowling probably proving too much for a flaky Essex unit.

We’ll have live coverage from the Cloudfm County Ground as the Essex Eagles target victory at the second attempt.

Hampshire vs Sussex Sharks

With the return of Liam Dawson and James Vince, and the likelihood that they will be around for most of the summer, Hampshire could be real contenders to win this years’ blast.

At the Ageas Bowl today they face Sussex, who with an experienced squad could prove a test to any team. The brute force of Luke Wright and the unforgettable arrow arm of Jofra Archer, not to mention firepower from Laurie Evans, Phil Salt and Alex Carey.

The aforementioned Archer is part of probably the best bowling attack in the competition. Alongside Tymal Mills, Rashid Khan, Chris Jordan and Danny Briggs, this Sussex team could go one better than they did after finishing runners-up last year.


Who will put points on the board? Who will slip up early and fall behind in the race for qualification? We will find out later on, with matches beginning at 14:30.


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Sports Journalism student, streamer at LFC Transfer Room, Anfield Agenda. Liverpool fan with a particular interest in Welsh, Youth, and African football.

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