Bish, bash, bosh, cases full of dosh. Yes that’s right, tomorrow night the first ball will be bowled in the 2018 T20 Vitality Blast. It’s that time of year again. With a heatwave burning most parts of the UK, let’s hope the next six weeks will be full of red hot shots, scorching catches and tongue wagging bowling. To get you in the mood, here’s the first part of our handy guide on what we can expect.
T’north. Gravy, curry sauce, fat blokes with their tops off. Don’t forget it was from this group that the eventual finalists Nottinghamshire and Birmingham emerged. In a repeat of last year’s robbery by the Outlaws, the Bears have a chance to exact some immediate revenge tomorrow night. Sharpening their claws, the likes of Jeetan Patel and Colin de Granhomme are viciously ready to rip into a Notts attack, which adds Ish Sodhi to its ranks. As for those merry men, led by Christian of Sherwood, they’ll be looking to now white ball specialist Alex Hales to fire his arrows well over the boundary.
Nottinghamshire once again seem like they’ll steal from the rich and give… well to themselves, but who else will progress with them?
Aging Pakistani Wahab Riaz and airplane sounding Lockie Ferguson add very little flight to a weak attack. On the back of his glorious 140* against England, Calum MacLeod was snapped up by the Falcons who will be seeking to reach new heights this time around.
Whitto’s Verdict: Unlike their avian namesake, Derbyshire have very little predatory instincts. Might as well bat with a hood covering their eyes.
He averaged just 29 in three county champ rounds, but Tom Latham is raring to wash away his doubters and succeed in England. Will need to support a youthful team with much on shoulders of Graham Clark, Stuart Poynter and Matthew Potts. Imran Tahir brings spinning know how, which will prove invaluable.
Whitto’s Verdict: May be a surprise package, with Tahir’s bowling bringing a joyful tear to the eye of members, who have been plunged into darkness for so long.
Much heralded return of James ‘The Finisher’ Faulkner. Due to Lancs unavoidable opening collapses though, will soon be known as ‘The Starter.’ However should Liam Livingstone find 2016 form, that is one heck of a powerful middle order. Oh and don’t forget the polite hitter of a white ball, Jos Buttler…
Whitto’s Verdict: Forget just getting out of the group. Lightning will strike in 2018 as Lancashire blast their way to the final!
Colin Ackerman is having a glorious red ball renaissance and has been sly enough to force his way into the shorter format as skipper. On a bowling front Mohammad’s Abbas and Nabi, will hope to bring the mountain to Leicester this summer.
Whitto’s Verdict: Not quite enough to threaten. Besides think of all the treats foxes will find, ferreting through garbage bins after matches. That’s the main result of hosting the T20 Vitality Blast.
Who can forget the Steelbacks being spanked around by Adam Lyth’s 161 as Yorkshire amassed the highest domestic T20 total in 2017? Yeah. I forgot that too. What about their victory over Durham in 2016 to lift the trophy? That might ring a bell. What’s certain is recent history shows Northants to be about as easy to predict as ‘Love Island’ right now. Although I think we all know which is the most exciting.
Whitto’s Verdict: Ben Duckett’s Buttler based bat handle printout of ‘Duck It’ will be the most entertaining sight on show at Wantage Road. If Ricardo Vasconcelos takes like a duck to water though, the Steelbacks could squeeze through.
Moeen, Head, Guptil and Ferguson. Four batsmen who will have the crowd at Worcester licking their lips. Alright Head probably won’t; he’ll have folks licking lips for a totally different reason. But the others are serious players. We know how dangerous Moeen and Guptil are, with the latter averaging 34.40 in 74 T20I’s for New Zealand. Guptil also brings up his 200th first class T20 for Worcestershire; a superb achievement.
Whitto’s Verdict: Batting wise they have an arsenal full of machine guns and bazookas. On a bowling front they have about as much solidity as Arsenal’s defence (ask your footy mate about that one).
Wearing pronged Viking helmets and swigging beer is just a standard Saturday for Adam Lyth. Having batted like a Viking emerging bleary eyed on Sunday in the test format, Lyth has a new lease of life in the shorter game. Earlier this season he smashed 141 in the 50 over War of the Roses and will be looking to carry this strong form forward. Kane Williamson provides just a ‘tad’ of overseas quality.
Whitto’s Verdict: Mix four England white ball internationals, with the Kiwi skipper and what do you get? An awful campaign which sees them finishing bottom of the north group. Since when did hype do any good?
The T20 Vitality Blast is always a struggle to predict, mainly because the format is such a lottery. Far from chickening out however, I’ll go for Notts, Lancs and Birmingham to progress.
Why wouldn’t you trust me?