With Finals day inclduing the two semi finals there won’t be time to blog on the semis. So i am doing it on the quarters. This is a preview of the big players and teams prospects for the FLT20 quarter finals. There are four Quarter final games and i will go through each one and outline the big players, the big games and what i think might happen.
The ECB confirmed the following times and dates for the 2012 Friends Life t20 quarter-finals:
Tuesday 24 July, 4:15pm: Somerset vs Essex, Taunton
Tuesday 24 July, 7:10pm: Sussex vs Gloucestershire, The PROBIZ County Ground
Wednesday 25 July, 4:15pm: Yorkshire vs Worcestershire, Headingley Carnegie
Wednesday 25 July, 7:10pm: Nottinghamshire vs Hampshire, Trent Bridge
GAME 1 – SOMERSET Vs. ESSEX
Batsmen to look out for :
Somerset – Their entire Batting lineup is seriosuly destructive even though the likes of Trescothick and Kieswetter whilst injured or on England duty have been Absent, they were still extremely strong. There are strong signs both will be available anyway but in addition to these international heavyweights at the top we have Levi (SA international T20 opener) and Compton followed by Trego, Buttler Hildreth. To finish off the innings there is Albie Morkel and stuck at the bottom the Irish smasher O’Brien. It is an utterly relentless and unforgiving international quality lineup. There is an awsome mix of T20 knowhow through the likes of Hildreth (who hit the only ton of the competition and it had no sixes in it) and the smashers like Morkel and O’brien.
Essex likewise have a very strong lineup but it will be at it’s strongest if they have all their big players available. Potentially it could have Bopara, Shah Franklin and Foster in addition to Napier and Pettini. Fine players all. Essex are sometimes a little inconsistent though.
Big six hitters: Levi with 10 sixes in the comp for Somerset. For Essex their Wicketkeeper is their best batsmen by far with 15 sixes and most runs in the competition so far (244 runs). Kevin O’brien also a huge hitter
Unless Shah turns up or Napier plays another groundbreaking innings, i would say look out in the crowd when James Foster is batting.
Bowlers to look out for :
Somerset have both Alfonso Thomas and George Dockrell who are the keys for their bowling success. Thomas vastly experienced, Dockrell has youthful energy and encouraging maturity but has only taken 8 wickets so far. Their strength is most definitely with the Bat.
As for Essex, Topley with 14 wickets at an average of 15 and Smith with 10 at 14 are the big wicket takers in addition to the evergreen Dave Masters and hugely underrated Napier. Essex a force to be reckoned with, with the ball.
Prediction : Very tough call. Although Somerset are known for choking i reckon they have the edge with depth and strength with the bat. This should out do the under performing Essex even though Essex are arguably a stronger all round side with better bowling in the middle overs.
GAME 2 – SUSSEX Vs. GLOUCESTERSHIRE
Batsmen to look out for : Sussex have a hugely powerful top 5. Nash and Wright opening up. Wright has been extremely successfull hitting 308 runs in 8 games. He has been supported by Matt Prior who will most likely be on England duty. If not then obviously they have a high class batsmen in at 3. In addition there is Goodwin, Styris Gatting and Yardy.
Gloucester i am afraid are not breathtaking. Apart from Hamish Marshall and Ed Cowan they have serious problems with the bat. They have got through winning just four games and have big issues with the depth in their batting lineup. They are light in both quality batsmen and international players. Only as i say Marshall and cowan.
Big six hitters: Sussex have a wealth of hitting with Wright, Yardy and Prior being the main hitters for them. Wright has hit 11 sixes so far and one of the leading run scorers. Look out for him. For Glouc, Marshall has hit just the 5 and can not play all the innings for Glous..
Bowlers to look out for : Sussex not only have quality batsmen but have some leading bowlers. Chris Liddle who has 14 wickets at a misely average of 10 has been an unlikely standout bowler in this years competition. The likes of Yardy, Styris and Beer bring some stability with Wright and Kahn also bringing some impetus with pace.
Glouc have the eternally good Muralitharan. IF he turns up and works some magic, there could be a shock but it would mean Glous having to score some runs so there is something to bowl at. it is not just a one man Murali show though, Ian Saxelby who is had a good tournament so far with 10 wickets has been consistent.
Prediction : Unless Murali and Saxelby can work some serious magic and the batsmen give them something to bowl at, i expect Sussex to demolish Gloucester and steamroll over them whilst charging to their semi final spot.
GAME 3 – YORKSHIRE Vs. WORCESTERSHIRE
Batsmen to look out for :
Yorkshire have a very strong batting lineup. Jacques with 248 runs and Miller with over 200 runs. This bulks up the lineup led by the likes of Root, Gale and Ballance. Good in first class cricket but not so successful i this T20 format. Need some performances.
Worcester have been the real underdogs but have led an extremely strong campaign. Phil Hughes has stormed the competition with the most runs (332). He has the trusty and reliable Solanki and the surprisingly aggressive Moeen Ali and Gareth Andrews.
Big six hitters: For Yorkshire Miller has 11 sixes and there are the likes of Root and Gale who can bosh it too. Worcs have big hitters Ali and Hughes. Phil Hughes famous for his unorthodox method but very aggressive. So far he has not hit too many maximums though but definitely has the potential too.
Bowlers to look out for : Yorks have Mitch Stark who has steamrolled the competition with 18 wickets at 10.75. As long as he is available (which according to Jason Gillespie he is) he will be pivotal. Ashraf also has 14 wickets at 17 so he will be very important too. Worcester are heavily reliant upon Jack Shantry, Mitchell and Andrews for their wickets but the unorthodoxy of Shantry is often something that has worked in the favour of Worc..
Prediction : Yorks should win this but Worcester have had an excellent competition and could surprise people if they can use their great top order to pressurize Yorkshire.
GAME 4 – NOTTINGHAMSHIRE Vs. HAMPSHIRE
Batsmen to look out for :
Notts’ batting lineup is star studded. Lumb, Hales, Voges, Wessels, Taylor, Read and Samit Patel are all International quality batsmen and massive hitters. They have shown with big targets in the previous stages that they can out bat the opposition. Perhaps the only flaw would be if they have to bowl first and chase a target out their grasp.
Hampshire Also have a strong lineup with the likes of Adams, Vince, McKenzie Ervine, Maxwell, Dawson and of course Mascarenhas*. . They unfortunately will be without the hard hitting ‘BOOM BOOM’ Afridi who was due to play for them.
Big six hitters:
Notts – LUMB with 10 in the comp so far. Part of England’s T20 world cup winning side and has played in the IPL He has been somewhat lacklusture of late arguably. As we saw in the CB40 Taylor is perfectly capable of boshing the ball around too.
For Hampshire Maxwell with 13 sixes so far (second highest only to Foster) and skipper Dimi Mascarenhas who has proven he can hit very very big in international level
Bowlers to look out for :
For Notts perhaps bowling is their weak point. Andrew Carter however is thier leading T20 bowler so keep a look out.. but Samit Patel if he plays will also be a good useful spinner.
Kabir Ali for Hampshire has good pace and is canny despite not taking huge numbers of wickets. Expect big totals and limited dependency on Bowlers
On the basis of Notts having a stronger Batting lineup shown by astronomically high net run rate in the previous stage (1.877) which was the highest out of anyone compared to Hants’s 0.693 i would say Notts to come away with a win and book a Semi final spot. Although Nottinghamshire are lacking in Bowling, arguably Hampshire are too and and Notts are stronger with the Bat