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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Vitality Blast South Group preview: Are defending champions Somerset the crew to beat this summer time? | Cricket Information

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Forward of the 2024 Vitality Blast, which begins on Thursday, here’s a preview of the South Group, which incorporates defending champions Somerset and final 12 months’s runners-up Essex.

Who’re the gamers to look out for and which cricketers might put themselves within the combine for a Hundred call-up later this summer time?

Watch video games from the Vitality Blast dwell on Sky Sports activities this summer time, together with a double-header on Saturday as Derbyshire Falcons play Leicestershire Foxes and Birmingham Bears meet Notts Outlaws.


  • Captain: Simon Harmer
  • Abroad gamers: Simon Harmer (South Africa), Daniel Sams (Australia).
  • Finals Day appearances: Six (2006, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2019, 2023)
  • Titles: One (2019)
  • 2023 end: Finalists
  • 2023 main run-scorer: Daniel Sams (419)
  • 2023 main wicket-taker: Daniel Sams (25)

Key winter strikes: Essex reacted cannily to the lack of Dan Lawrence. They changed him with Kent’s livewire Jordan Cox, who outperformed the Oval-bound defector within the Blast final season (averaging 52.50 towards 29.69 with a superior strike-rate of 165.78 in comparison with 153.17).

The massive query: Will Essex make their passage by the group stage rather less anxious for all involved? They had been rightly being written off when shedding their penultimate group match to final season’s whipping boys Middlesex solely to tug off a shock win towards Surrey two days later and qualify.

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Wildcard watch: The Hundred selectors have swept up nearly all of these eligible from the Essex camp. Nonetheless, Feroze Khushi has been Bazballing within the Championship and can endlessly be remembered for the last-ball six on the Kia Oval that carried Essex to a quarter-final place en path to final season’s remaining.

Closing thought: The return of Australian all-rounder Daniel Sams for a 3rd successive abroad stint might be key. Sams received the match’s MVP final 12 months after topping each Essex’s batting and bowling lists with 419 runs and 25 wickets (he additionally held 13 catches). An entire heap of expectation rests on his shoulders.

Simon Harmer will hope Essex can go one higher than in 2023


  • Captain: Kiran Carlson
  • Abroad gamers: Marnus Labuschagne (Australia), Colin Ingram (South Africa).
  • Finals Day appearances: Two (2008, 2017)
  • Titles: None
  • 2023 end: Eighth (South Group)
  • 2023 main run-scorer: Chris Cooke (419)
  • 2023 main wicket-taker: Jamie McIlroy (19)

Key winter strikes: The arrival of Mason Crane over the winter is the large signing for Glamorgan’s white-ball hopes. An attacking spinner with a confirmed observe file within the Blast, Crane provides some firepower to the Glamorgan assault.

The massive query: Final 12 months Glamorgan began with 4 wins out of their first 5 matches earlier than a protracted damage checklist meant they fell away, successful only one extra match earlier than the top of the group stage. The query for 2024 might be whether or not they can carry out persistently all through the match.

Wildcard watch: Mason Crane is prospering on the again of enjoying each sport for his new county, and with leg-spinners being a-much-sought-after commodity there’s a good likelihood of him utilizing his Championship type as a springboard to success within the Blast and into considered one of The Hundred squads.

Closing thought: With a robust batting line-up and a tidy white-ball bowling assault Glamorgan must be focusing on a quarter-finals place. From there three good video games would see them declare their maiden T20 title.

Mason Crane (PA Images)
Leg-spinner Mason Crane is on a season-long mortgage at Glamorgan from Hampshire


  • Captain: Jack Taylor
  • Abroad gamers: Beau Webster (Australia), Cameron Bancroft (Australia), Zafar Gohar (Pakistan)
  • Finals Day appearances: Three (2003, 2007, 2020)
  • Titles: None
  • 2023 end: Seventh (South Group)
  • 2023 main run-scorer: Ben Charlesworth (299)
  • 2023 main wicket-taker: Tom Smith (17)

Key winter strikes: Aussie seamer Beau Webster has been recruited to spice up the bowling assault and can hope to make use of his 6ft 7ins body to make scoring tough towards him, whereas fellow countryman Cameron Bancroft is again for a second spell within the batting ranks and has been enjoying repeatedly within the Championship.

The massive query: Can Gloucestershire translate their enchancment in red-ball cricket underneath new head coach Mark Alleyne this season, successful a primary Championship sport since 2022 and working up their highest-ever first-class rating, to the shortest format of the sport?

Wildcard watch: David Payne claimed 15 Blast wickets final summer time, having not performed any pink ball cricket main as much as the match due to damage. The skilled left-arm seamer has once more missed the primary half of the Championship season to be match and recent for T20 and might be eager to make an affect.

Closing thought: Mark Alleyne proved himself a shrewd chief in one-day cricket as captain throughout Gloucestershire’s glory years of the late Nineteen Nineties and early 2000s. Now he has the chance to affect the aspect tactically from inside the dressing room as a head coach with a shrewd cricketing mind for the shorter codecs of the sport.


  • Captain: James Vince
  • Abroad gamers: Ben McDermott (Australia), Michael Neser (Australia, first eight matches), Ottniel Baartman (South African, final six matches and knockouts)
  • Finals Day appearances: Ten (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2021, 2022, 2023)
  • Titles: Three (2010, 2012, 2022)
  • 2023 end: Semi-finals
  • 2023 main run-scorer: James Vince (670)
  • 2023 main wicket taker: Nathan Ellis (23)

Key winter strikes: Nathan Ellis has not been retained regardless of two wonderful seasons, as a substitute seamers Michael Neser and Ottniel Baartman – a two-time SA20 champion underneath Adi Birrell – share his place. Domestically, Ali Orr is in, Ross Whiteley and Aneurin Donald are out, whereas Scott Currie and Mason Crane are away on mortgage for now.

The massive query: Can John Turner hit the identical heights as final season? The uber-quick bowler started with a double wicket maiden, took 21 wickets at a median of 11.76 and an economic system of 6.67, and ended with an England contract. Accidents have restricted him to 3 first-team matches since Finals Day although.

Wildcard watch: Joe Weatherley has extra middle-order Blast runs than anybody since 2021, however has not been saved on by the Southern Courageous after two years of principally carrying drinks. He might be a shrewd Vitality Wildcard choose, as might Chris Wooden’s expertise and Brad Wheal’s tempo.

Closing thought: The Hawks know methods to get to Finals Day, and an eleventh look, which might be a fourth in a row, is actually the minimal requirement. There are deep depths to the batting – a run of Dawson, Howell, Fuller, Neser from six to 9 is opulent, particularly after Vince up high – and the bowlers have all bases coated, particularly with the dynamic fast assault.


  • Captain: Sam Billings
  • Abroad gamers: Xavier Bartlett (Australia), Wes Agar (Australia), Charlie Stobo (Australia), Beyers Swanepoel (South Africa)
  • Finals Day appearances: 4 (2007, 2008, 2009, 2021)
  • Titles: Two (2007, 2021)
  • 2023 end: Fifth (South Group)
  • 2023 main run-scorer: Daniel Bell-Drummond (600)
  • 2023 main wicket-taker: Grant Stewart (24)

Key winter strikes: Jordan Cox might have defected to Essex, however Matt Parkinson’s arrival from Lancashire offers the frontline spin possibility that George Linde conspicuously didn’t final 12 months. The abroad gamers might be rotated, with Bartlett restricted to eight appearances and Swanepoel anticipated to supply some lower-order pyrotechnics.

The massive query: Will the rotation coverage truly work? On the very least it must be an enchancment on the negligible contributions offered by Linde and an injured Kane Richardson final season. The Spitfires’ type improved considerably after Agar was drafted in from the red-ball squad.

Wildcard watch: The apparent alternative is Jack Leaning, however Grant Stewart and Joey Evison can even bat and bowl, as can Joe Denly. An actual wildcard alternative as a specialist spinner can be Parkinson. He has 139 Blast wickets at 18.96 and has considerably improved his batting over the winter.

Closing thought: The Blast brings first-class sport to an space 50 miles from the closest Premier League soccer and rugby grounds, and 55 from the closest franchise. The Spitfire Floor is a sold-out bearpit on Blast nights and the Spitfires have a real title likelihood.


  • Captain: Stephen Eskinazi
  • Abroad gamers: None
  • Finals Day appearances: One (2008)
  • Titles: One (2008)
  • 2023 end: Ninth (South Group)
  • 2023 main run-scorer: Stephen Eskinazi (462)
  • 2023 main wicket-taker: Tom Helm (12)

Key winter strikes: Monetary restrictions imply Middlesex go into the match with none imports, however former Derbyshire skipper Leus du Plooy is a wonderful addition to their center order, whereas Henry Brookes ought to take some strain off Tom Helm’s shoulders within the seam-bowling division.

The massive query: Whereas Middlesex possess batting brawn up high, with Eskinazi, Max Holden and Joe Cracknell, their tendency has been to stumble within the center overs. Can Du Plooy present the cool head required to handle an innings – arguably missing ever since Eoin Morgan known as it a day.

Wildcard watch: Jack Davies steered Middlesex throughout the road in final 12 months’s thrilling run-fest towards Surrey, recording an total strike-rate north of 150 in the course of the match. The massive-hitting wicketkeeper-batter must be assured a lot extra alternatives to shine within the wake of John Simpson’s departure to Sussex.

Closing thought: Though Middlesex’s determination to change two residence video games to Chelmsford was controversial, it’s unlikely to place them at a drawback. The perennial T20 under-achievers belatedly discovered type on the street in final 12 months’s Blast, successful three of their final 4 group matches after shedding 10 in a row – together with each sport at residence.

Max Holden, Middlesex, Vitality Blast (Getty Images)
Max Holden’s runs might be essential for Middlesex this season


  • Captain: Lewis Gregory
  • Abroad gamers: Riley Meredith (Australia)
  • Finals Day appearances: 9 (2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2018, 2021, 2022, 2023)
  • Titles: Two (2005, 2023)
  • 2023 end: Champions
  • 2023 main run-scorer: Will Smeed (523)
  • 2023 main wicket-taker: Matt Henry (31)

Key winter strikes: Australia fast Riley Meredith has been signed to exchange Matt Henry, who performed such a giant half in lifting the trophy final season. Roelof van der Merwe is again on a white-ball contract having not been named within the Netherlands squad for the World Cup.

The massive query: Can Tom Kohler-Cadmore return from a disappointing Indian Premier League marketing campaign with Rajasthan Royals in assured sufficient temper to repeat the excellent success of his first season at Somerset, which noticed him common nearly 35 in scoring 489 Vitality Blast runs?

Wildcard watch: Ben Inexperienced’s innocuous trying medium-paced bowling introduced him 30 Blast wickets final summer time, lots of them to catches as opponents regarded to extend their run-rate. That was just one lower than main wicket-taker Matt Henry and the 26-year-old Devonian all-rounder will go into this season’s competitors excessive on self-belief.

Closing thought: As champions, Somerset would be the crew everyone seems to be gunning for this summer time. However they boast a formidable batting line-up to money in on their true residence pitches and might once more rely on incredible assist and a vibrant environment on the Cooper Associates County Floor, which has develop into an intimidating venue for visiting sides.

Tom Kohler-Cadmore
Tom Kohler-Cadmore starred in Somerset’s victory final season


  • Captain: Chris Jordan
  • Abroad gamers: Sean Abbott (Australia), Spencer Johnson (Australia) – each obtainable for first eight matches.
  • Finals Day appearances: Eight (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2013, 2014, 2020, 2023)
  • Titles: One (2003)
  • 2023 end: Semi-finals
  • 2023 main run-scorer: Laurie Evans (563)
  • 2023 main wicket-taker: Sunil Narine (20)

Key winter strikes: Surrey have pulled off one thing of a coup by signing thrilling Australia worldwide left-arm fast Spencer Johnson for the primary eight group video games. Johnson grabbed English audiences’ consideration when he took a rare 3-1 in 20 balls in final summer time’s The Hundred, for Oval Invincibles towards Manchester Originals.

The massive query: A big monkey on Surrey’s again is the fixed reminder that their solely earlier T20 triumph got here underneath Adam Hollioake’s captaincy within the inaugural match method again in 2003, regardless of eight appearances total at Finals Day. Final 12 months they had been crushed by 24 runs within the semi-final by eventual winners Somerset.

Wildcard watch: You may describe him extra as a forgotten man of English cricket, reasonably than a wildcard, however Jason Roy might be determined to remind everybody of his world-class top-order hitting powers within the eight group matches he performs earlier than departing for Main League Cricket within the USA. Anticipate early fireworks from Roy.

Closing thought: This 12 months’s Blast is one other huge check of the Surrey squad’s famed energy in depth. With 4 gamers initially away on the ICC Males’s T20 World Cup – skipper Chris Jordan, all-rounders Sam Curran and Will Jacks, plus tempo bowler Reece Topley – different main abilities like Roy, Ollie Pope, Jamie Smith, Gus Atkinson, Tom Curran and Dan Worrall might be anticipated to step up into on-field management roles till the England quartet return for the later group video games in July.


  • Captain: Tymal Mills
  • Abroad gamers: Daniel Hughes (Australia), Nathan McAndrew (Australia)
  • Finals Day appearances: 5 (2007, 2009, 2012, 2018, 2021)
  • Titles: One (2009)
  • 2023 end: Sixth (South Group)
  • 2023 main run-scorer: Ravi Bopara (408)
  • 2023 main wicket-taker: Tymal Mills and Ravi Bopara (12)

Key winter strikes: Tymal Mills, considered one of solely three gamers who took half at Finals Day in 2021 nonetheless at Sussex, takes over as captain. Daniel Hughes, the skilled Australian left-hander who has performed 105 Massive Bash video games, might be joined by compatriot Nathan McAndrew, who performed seven Blast matches for Sussex in 2023.

The massive query: Neither of Sussex’s two high scorers in 2023 – Ravi Bopara and Michael Burgess – are round this 12 months so who’s going to fireplace the batting? Rather a lot depends upon Daniel Hughes, who’s experiencing the Blast for the primary time, whereas Danny Lamb will look to tackle Bopara’s all-rounder position.

Wildcard watch: James Coles performed 11 video games final 12 months with out producing a match-winning efficiency however with that have underneath his belt the 20-year-old might be essential this season, as a tempo-setting batter within the high 4 and along with his enhancing left-arm spin within the center overs.

Closing thought: Sussex received 5 video games away however solely as soon as at Hove and coach Paul Farbrace has prioritised enhancing that residence file. They’re set to lose younger Scotland internationals Brad Currie and Charlie Tear to the World Cup and lack apparent star high quality. They might want to begin properly if they’re to threaten the large hitters within the South Group.

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