T20 Team of the Week
7/12/2016 0 Comments
The T20 Blast Group Stage is reaching an exciting climax and after a further few days of limited overs action, Charlie Jennings was tasked with the tough challenge of picking his all star XI for the week, here's whose made the cut.
Mark Wallace Glamorgan – A steady innings from the opening batsman guided Glamorgan to an easy nine-wicket win over Middlesex. Wallace notched up seven boundaries and a six to make an unbeaten 69 from 50 balls, the highest score in the South Group on Friday evening. Wallace was supported most notably by David Lloyd, who made 49 with one six, and Colin Ingram who raced the Welsh county to victory with an unbeaten 19, which including 3 consecutive sixes off Olly Rayner in what turned into the last over of the match. It was the first fifty of the season for Wallace, in just his second appearance, a good day for the opener.
Mark Pettini Leicestershire – The experienced opener blasted 71 from 48 balls to punish a below par Derbyshire to confine the Falcons to a heavy nine-wicket loss with over 4 overs remaining. Leicestershire chased down 164, Pettini and opening partner Mark Cosgrove adding 106 of those before Cosgrove departed for a 27-ball 52. However, it was the former Essex man who controlled the innings without ever playing a shot in anger. The innings contained just 11 fours and was the perfect example of how to chase down a score in T20 cricket.
Jos Buttler Lancashire – England wicket-keeper and opening batsman Buttler showed the form that has propelled him to be named alongside the most powerful hitters in today's game to lead Lancashire to an astonishing seven-wicket win over Worcestershire. The ex-Somerset man punished the Rapids with a brutal display of power-hitting, making 57 off of just 22 balls. Incredibly, Buttler departed before the end of the powerplay – having launched his side to 94 runs inside 5.4 overs before his dismissal. Four sixes and seven fours were hit by Buttler who continued the destructive form he had showed for England in the recent ODI series versus Sri Lanka and this was an innings which displayed Buttler at his destructive best – the Red Rose can have a lot to look forward to.
Dan Christian Nottinghamshire – Captain Christian led by example for his Nottinghamshire side, scoring a match-winnings 56 off 32 balls in their six-wicket win over North Group table-toppers Northamptonshire. Having restricted Northants to 122 all out, Christian contributing 2 overs for 20 in that effort, a Nottinghamshire victory never looked in doubt after the skipper strode to the crease. His side were wobbling on 22-2, but that became 101-3 when he departed, having hit 4 fours and 4 sixes in a partnership of 79 with Michael Lumb which took them to the brink. Victory was sealed with three overs remaining by Samit Patel, but it was Christian's contribution with the bat that Notts will be thankful for.
Benny Howell Gloucestershire – The all-rounder had a good day with bat and ball, but his effort came in vain as Kent recorded a tight victory over the Bristol side. Howell started off by taking an impressive 3-29 from his four overs, recording the wickets of Tom Latham, the in-form Sam Northeast and the dangerous Darren Stevens. The good form shown with the ball continued with the bat, Howell struck a six and 3 fours in his 23-ball 37. His wicket was a crucial one, and when he fell run out by Alex Blake, Kent pressed home their advantage and strangled Gloucestershire's lower order – winning by just 3 runs. Howell can be proud of his efforts, and with support from just one other batsman he would be celebrating victory, not just a good performance.
Ashar Zaidi Essex – Zaidi makes it consecutive call-ups to the VTFO TOTW after an impressive all-round performance in Essex's three run win over Hampshire. He made a crucial 47 at just over a run a ball, including just two fours and six – the innings held together the Essex effort and consequently pushed them to a narrow victory. His bowling effort was however the most impressive, he went for a cheap 16 runs and took two vital wickets – those of recently England-capped all-rounder Liam Dawson and the experienced Sean Ervine for single figure scores. His bowling kept Hampshire in check as Essex ran through their batting order with just James Vince threatening to spoil the Essex party as the England man held the Hampshire reply together but when Vince departed bowled by Napier, the host came up just short in their victory effort.
Scott Borthwick Durham – England touted all-rounder Borthwick took four wickets in Durham's comprehensive victory over Leicestershire, finishing with spectactular figures of 4-18 from his four over allotment. Borthwick along with fellow England leg spinner Adil Rashid are quickly putting an end to the conception that leg spin is a weakness in the shorter form – the bad balls often get wickets. Borthwick's figures add weight to the theory that a leg-spinner in the team is a positive; the wickets of dangerous overseas batsmen Cameron Delport and Faraan Behardien were pivotal in his side's win. He also added the tail-end wickets of Ben Raine, a useful all-rounder himself, and Tom Wells. The margin of victory, 5 wickets, was such that Borthwick wasn't required to bat but his bowling efforts are by far impressive enough to earn him a spot in this week's TOTW.
Timm Van Der Gugten Glamorgan – Dutchman Van Der Gugten is having a very impressive season, particularly in the shortest form. His 4-17 versus Sussex and 2-13 versus Middlesex took his season tally of wickets to 16, third in the list on highest wicket-takers – the signing may have been overlooked by many but has worked out well for the Welsh county. Van Der Gugten's four against Sussex included the top three of the Sharks batting order, removing Chris Nash for a laboured 4 off 17 balls, Luke Wright for 2 off 5 and Phillip Salt for 9 off 10. Against Middlesex, the Dutchman's spell of three included a maiden as well as the scalps of John Simpson and former New Zealand all-rounder James Franklin.
Nuwan Kulasekera Sussex – Sri Lankan seamer Kulasekara showed his worth as a replacement for the talented Bangladeshi Mustafizur Rahman by taking a four-fer in Sussex's heavy loss to Glamorgan on Thursday. His four for 28 included the wickets of Mark Wallace, the experienced Jacques Rudolph, Aneurin Donald for a first ball duck and Graham Wagg. The Sri Lankan may have been a late-notice replacement but he sure does come with international pedigree, having played second fiddle to Lasith Malinga for much of his international career Kulasekara seldom disappoints. His nagging length, and variations are pivotal and any side is lucky to have him in their XI – Sussex may be ruing their luck that Mustafizur can't fulfill his contract, but in Kulasekara they have a more than ample replacement.
Imran Tahir Nottinghamshire – South African leg-spinner Tahir makes it two leg-spinning bowlers in the side, his 3 for 13 from 4 helped Notts rattle through Northamptonshire's batting order to bowl them out for 122. Tahir is renowned as somewhat of a limited overs specialist and these figures only back-up that tag, his variations often baffle batsman who struggle to pick his action – and he has been a dangerous bowler on the County circuit for Middlesex, Hampshire and Warwickshire in the various forms of limited overs cricket we have seen across the years.
Clint McKay Leicestershire – The experienced paceman added three wickets to his tally in the Foxes' romp to victory over Derbyshire, as well as contributing a run out to the cause. His first wicket was the crucial one of James Neesham who was piling runs on for the Falcons at some lick, eventually falling for a handy 45 from 23. McKay then added two further wickets, bowling Alex Hughes and Tom Milnes with those deadly yorkers we have come to expect from the Aussie.
Picked by T20 specialist Charlie Jennings.
7/2/2016 0 Comments
Michael Klinger Gloucestershire – Captain Klinger led by example yet again for his West Country side as they again took the spoils over local rivals Somerset. The Australian's match-winning century guided Gloucestershire to a comfortable derby victory, sealing it with four balls remaining. The skipper hit four sixes and ten fours in his perfectly paced 71-ball 101 and only departed in the penultimate over before Chris Dent assured victory. Klinger yet again showed just why he has earned the reputation that has seen him touted by some for a national call up, and on this form, he should not be far off.
Ravi Bopara Essex – As destructive an innings as you'll see across the Blast this season. The experienced Englishman dominated a sorry Kent attack to strike a 43-ball 81. His innings included six sixes as well as four fours, and in partnership with Ashar Zaidi, the duo added 131 in just under ten overs to guide their side to a huge score of 204-3 from their 20 overs. Perhaps most impressively, Bopara took to young South African Kagiso Rabada in the penultimate over of the innings, striking a six and four in consecutive balls. Such an innings has become common fair for Essex fans, the experience and nous of Bopara often bearing fruit either with the bat or in the field.
Matt Machan Sussex – Sussex's Scot led them to an easy victory in their encounter with Middlesex. Machan struck 41 of the 147 required and guided his Sharks, alongside Kiwi Ross Taylor to a seven-wicket win. Of the two, Machan was the aggressor – Taylor scoring at just over a run a ball while the Scot hit 3 fours and a single six in his 30-ball stay. That partnership with Taylor was worth 74 runs and it proved to be an invaluable one after the departures of Phillip Salt and Luke Wright in the space of five balls had the Sharks wobbling. Machan and Taylor calmed the innings, though, rotating the strike and milking the Middlesex bowlers for easy runs before the victory was sealed in the penultimate over of the match – Middlesex left to rue another batting collapse after Paul Stirling's breezy 24-ball 52 had propelled them to a strong position before the last seven wickets fell for just 73.
Wayne Madsen Derbyshire – An outstanding half century brought Derbyshire a valuable victory over the Worcestershire Rapids at New Road in their quest for qualification from the North Group. Madsen struck a not out 59 from 33 balls that turned the match in the Falcons' favour. It was the 18th over of the Derby innings that sealed the Rapids' fate; Madsen, who continued his fine form in this year’s competition, struck the usually reliable Joe Leach for a six and two fours. The Falcons’ skipper added 99 with Chesney Hughes to take Derbyshire to their third victory of the campaign and take them to within three points of local rivals Nottinghamshire, the current occupants of the final qualification place in the North Group.
Ashar Zaidi Essex – Former Sussex man Zaidi played second fiddle to his skipper but also struck a quick-fire fifty to help guide Essex to a huge total and a comfortable victory over Kent. Playing as a specialist batsman despite being a useful spin option, Zaidi displayed the form he has shown throughout the Blast so far. His 54 came from 33 balls and included five boundaries along with three sixes. His partnership with Bopara, which was worth 131, took the game far away from Kent and in their reply they struggled to mount a serious challenge to the 204 Essex had amassed – which indeed was largely thanks to Zaidi and his captain Bopara.
Ben Cox Worcestershire – A rapid fifty from Worcestershire keeper Cox pushed his side to a total of 185 from their 20 overs. Although Cox's innings did turn out to be in vain, he punished the Derbyshire bowler with an array of shots that brought seven fours and two sixes. The last over of the innings saw Andy Carter take particular damage, four fours in succession saw the over go for 19, which, at the time gifted all of the momentum to the Rapids.
Matt Taylor Gloucestershire – An economical three wicket-haul for the opening bowler turned the screw for the Bristolians in their West Country derby at Taunton. Taylor took 3-16 from his four overs including the big wickets of Jim Allenby and Mahela Jayawardene. The other batsman to fall to Taylor's bowling was young Scotsman Michael Leask, and as wickets fell at regular intervals during the hosts' innings they struggled to post a score that would challenge Gloucestershire who eventually got home with four balls remaining largely thanks to Michael Klinger's impressive century.
Danny Briggs Sussex – Slow left-armer Briggs underpinned the Middlesex innings in taking 3-24 from his four overs, including one over at the top of the innings. Briggs took the big wicket of Paul Stirling who was threatening to take the game away from the Sharks after striking a breezy fifty, eventually holing out for 52. Nick Gubbins and Ryan Higgins also fell to the spinner with 7 t20 caps for England, and the former Hampshire man will be looking to recapture the form that earned him those caps. Briggs' contribution was vital as Sussex comfortably ran home victors after visitors Middlesex were restricted to a lacklustre 146 all out.
Steven Patterson Yorkshire – The Vikings' paceman bowled a tight final over to seal victory for Yorkshire in the Game of Roses clash at Headingley. In what was an 18 over match, Patterson's overs were crucial in sealing victory and it was left to Patterson to take the final wicket of Steven Parry with only six runs left to be scored to gain an unlikely win. Patterson had led the Tykes attack alongside the one-time England capped Tim Bresnan, but Patto outshone his teammate in taking figures of 3 for 23 from 3.4 overs. Lancashire's chase had indeed been dramatic, Liam Livingstone striking Karl Carver for three consecutive sixes earlier in the innings before falling in the same over for a breezy 36 – Lancashire lost wickets regularly and ultimately couldn't muster enough runs to overcome their White Rose rivals.
Richard Gleeson Northamptonshire – A quick three-wicket burst at the top of the Birmingham innings prevented any momentum from being created as the hosts stumbled to a terrible 86-8 in a rain-affected innings. Gleeson's opening salvo brought the wickets of Sam Hain and Ian Bell for single figure scores, and he followed that up with the wicket of overseas wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi. Gleeson's eventually finished with figures of 3-12 from his four overs, a great return for the Steelbacks' opening bowler as they recorded a comfortable chase in a one-sided affair at Edgbaston.
Paul Walter Essex – The youngster's first three wickets at senior level helped push Essex to an easy victory over Kent by 50 runs. After Bopara and Zaidi had scored the runs, it was left to Walter to lead the bowling attack. The young seamer took a wicket with the second ball of the innings, beating the bat of the dangerous Joe Denly to bowl him for a golden duck. Walter then bowled two relatively cheap overs during the middle of the innings, before wrapping up Fabian Cowdrey's 18 run burst. James Tredwell was the last to fall to Walter, caught at fine-leg as the youngster capped a fine day off with figures of 3-26 from his four overs.
Team compiled by View From the Outfield’s official T20 Team Manager Charlie Jennings. Agree? Tweet us with your views to @ViewfromtheOut or to Charlie himself @AVCJX!
Jason Roy Surrey: – England's T20 opener showed just why he is one of the highest rated short format batsmen in the country, if not the world. He struck 109 from 67 balls, guiding his Surrey team to a mammoth total of 205-4, which Sussex could not overhaul. Roy's innings contained 16 fours and only one maximum – but set the tone perfectly for the innings in a 107 run partnership with Kumar Sangakkara for the second wicket. Roy took a particular liking to the bowling of South African David Wiese, smashing two fours and that singular six in successive balls in an over that went for 17. The Englishman brought up his century from 61 balls, and this innings, in particular, was the one that took this match away from Sussex.
Chris Nash Sussex (C): – The Sussex opener fired a magnificent century on Wednesday in his side's comprehensive victory over Somerset. His 112 came from 64 balls and contained 3 maximums to go alongside his 13 boundaries. In particular, the Englishman took a liking to the short leg-side boundary at Hove, assisted by the breeze – and brought up his maiden T20 hundred by depositing Jamie Overton over long-on for one of those maximums. It was all the more impressive that the 33-year old's innings upstaged West Indian Chris Gayle's arrival for Somerset, making his first appearance in this edition of the NatWest T20 Blast. Nash outshone his Jamaican counterpart, and alongside Luke Wright (83 off 39, 8 fours and 5 sixes) led the Sharks into posting a huge score of 223 for Gayle and his teammates to chase down, which they failed to do by quite a margin.
Varun Chopra Birmingham Bears: – Chopra's first innings in this year's blast could not have gone any better, making an unbeaten 97 to guide his side to a comfortable nine-wicket win over the Durham Jets. Chopra began with good intentions, striking a glorious six over extra cover in the first over of the innings, and followed that up with two more lusty blows for six during the powerplay. His 97 came from just 58 balls, the former Bears captain totalling up 8 fours along with 5 sixes and it was left, fittingly so, to Chopra to hit the winning runs with a gentle two. This innings impressed as it involved clever manipulation of the strike along with tactically timed boundary hitting, which always had the Bears on top of their run chase. He struck 94 in ten overs with skipper Ian Bell (35 off 27) before Bell departed, but safely saw the Bears home in partnership with Will Porterfield (18 off 29). Chopra will now be looking to seal a place in the starting XI for the Bears, having only featured due to Sam Hain being struck down with food poisoning shortly before the match – it would be a shock should he not retain that place in the squad now.
Joe Root Yorkshire Vikings: – The ever-impressive Yorkshireman Root struck a blindingly good 92 not out in a losing effort in the Roses match. Root lacked support throughout the innings from any of his teammates, and in the end was stranded 8 runs short of a deserved century as well as 26 runs of the Vikings' victory target of 205. It was, however, a typical Root innings - the like that we saw countless times during England's run to the World T20 final, it included a glorious array of strokes that brought Root 8 fours and 3 sixes. Root grew ever more frustrated throughout the innings, it would only have taken one batsman to stick with him and make a half decent contribution to take the Vikings close – and to such a proud Yorkshireman, a Roses defeat is as bitter as it comes.
Liam Livingstone Lancashire Lightning (w/k): – What a player Lancashire have on their hands. Livingstone took to the Yorkshire attack with a brutal display of some monstrous hitting that left the crowd taking cover. The youngster showed just what potential the Red Rose can look forward to seeing on display over the coming years as he hit a 23-ball 55, including four huge sixes. Livingstone paved the way for Lancashire to set a highly demanding target for Yorkshire to chase. Livingstone and Karl Brown were the main foils to the Yorkshire bowling attack as they put together a speedy 98 together in just 8.2 overs – Livingstone eventually falling to the experienced Liam Plunkett. It was an incredible feat from such a young man, and in front of the Sky cameras, we must just have seen one of the future England stars be born.
Aneurin Donald Glamorgan: – Young Welshman Aneurin Donald is touted as one the future stars of English cricket, and showed just why his reputation has grown to such heights against Hampshire. He blitzed the Hampshire attack with a series of blows to make a fast-paced and crucial 55 from 32 balls. Astonishingly, Donald's first 18 runs off the bat all came from boundaries and included hitting experienced all-rounder Darren Sammy for a six and a four off the first two balls of the 5th over, and followed that up with consecutive fours off the last two of that over to hit Sammy for 18 in his only over. For Donald this was his second t20 fifty of his career, having hit his first on Wednesday night versus Essex. The England Under 19 batsman's innings eventually curtailed when he was bowled by Liam Dawson, but by that time had hit 7 fours and 3 sixes in compiling a score which had taken Glamorgan from a precariously positioned 9/2 to a healthy 103/3 alongside Ingram.
Rikki Clarke Birmingham Bears: – The veteran Clarke showed just what a key player he is in the Birmingham lineup as he played his first match of this campaign, and took outstanding figures of 2-25 from his four overs opening the bowling. Clarke began well, beating the bat of the dangerous Phil Mustard a couple of times before being planted over the square leg boundary and being driven for four – it was his second over that set the tone. The former Surrey man had Graham Clark held outstandingly at mid-on by Josh Poysden and no runs were scored from the over as Clarke really began to dig the Durham batsman a hole. It was no surprise – Clarke bowled more dot balls than anyone else in last year's competition. He then had another in his third, Michael Richardson being a bit too adventurous and scooping him right into the hands of fine leg. The all-rounder had really set Durham's innings back and at the end of his spell, the Jets were reeling at 49/3. Durham struggled to an eventual total of 154/9, which the Bears chased down emphatically, and Clarke's powerplay bowling is so often the reason the Bears restricts the opposition to manageable totals.
Jimmy Neesham Derbyshire Falcons: – T20 specialist Neesham provided the type of performance Derbyshire will have been looking for when they signed the New Zealand international – Neesham was a class above on the day and in what was a low-scoring match against the Leicestershire Foxes his international experience told. Neesham's important performance began with the ball; he took 3 for 26 from his four overs – taking the key early wickets of Aussie Mark Cosgrove and Irishman Kevin O'Brien cheaply, for 1 and 9 respectively. Later in the innings, Neesham had Neil Dexter caught to prevent any score of real danger being posted by the Foxes. It was then left to Neesham to see home the innings with a short cameo of 29 from 22 balls with one six. Just when the Falcons may have been getting nervous, with the wickets falling at regular intervals, the Kiwi's calm head proved pivotal in a short partnership with the also impressive Shiv Thakor, who scored the winning runs.
Chris Woakes Birmingham Bears: - Local lad Woakes continued his early season hot streak in taking outstanding figures of 3 for 25 from his four overs. Woakes showed just what he has added to his game to make him a real contender for an England spot – real pace alongside great variation to underpin the batsmen trying to attack him. Woakes roughed up danger man Phil Mustard with a couple of fiery bouncers, one striking Mustard on the head before another short one was top-edged into the hands Josh Poysden. Paul Coughlin was Woakes' next victim, a mistimed slog caught by Rikki Clarke and two balls later Scott Borthwick was sent back for a golden duck, dollying a catch to silly mid off. Woakes was crucial, along with Rikki Clarke in restricting the Jets batsman to a manageable total.
Andrew Tye Gloucestershire: - The Australian paceman showed just why he has been capped at international level in the shortest format, taking an impressive 3-18 from his four overs to restrict Kent to a below-par total of 144 for 7. Tye's first over was perhaps the most crucial, getting rid of the in-form Daniel Bell-Drummond for an underwhelming 25 in the sixth over, which went for just 1 run. The man from Perth then came back in the 10th over to prevent the threatening Darren Stevens from making an impact on Kent's total – bowling him for 11. He then struck with the first ball of his penultimate over, having Fabian Cowdrey caught and his impressive spell ensured that the Spitfires had created no real momentum. And the visitors knocked off the 145 required easily, sealing victory in the last over.
Michael Hogan Glamorgan: - Four wickets for Hogan helped bowl out Hampshire for a paltry total of 141. Hogan ripped into the Hampshire batting line-up before Dale Steyn returned late in the innings to finish off the tail; he began by removing both openers in consecutive overs. Michael Carberry was his first victim, mistiming a pull and being caught at backward point, he was soon followed by James Vince who was bowled for 27. Hogan returned later in the innings to remove Liam Dawson and the big-hitting Shahid Afridi – who threatened to blow away the Glamorgan bowlers late on in the innings in making a quick fire 32. Hogan and Steyn polished off Hampshire with relative ease, and a total of 141 was always too little. Some big hitting from Aneurin Donald and Colin Ingram ensured Hogan's efforts were in a winning cause.
Written by Charlie Jennings (@AVCJX - resident T20 VFTO Coach)
5/21/2016 0 Comments
A thrilling opening evening of the Natwest T20 Blast left little to desire – a night of massive hits, massive totals, nerve-jangling chases and as tight a Duckworth-Lewis result as you'll find! In Worcester, the Royals comfortably saw off Durham Jets by 38 runs – a massive 225-6 was always out of reach. Elsewhere in the North Group, Birmingham Bears opened up their account for the season with a tense 6 wicket win over the Nottingham Outlaws – chasing down 180 with two balls to spare. And it was also a close affair at Grace Road as Northamptonshire negotiated a tricky 7 runs required from the final over to seal a 5 wicket D/L win over Leicester Foxes.
In the South Group, it was also a tale of some big totals – at Canterbury, Kent eased home past Somerset, chasing down 198 with 16 balls remaining. Elsewhere, rain interrupted what looked to be a thriller in Bristol, as Gloucestershire's innings was curtailed by rain having set off on a monumental chase of Sussex's 243, falling agonisingly short by one run on Duckworth-Lewis after 7.3 overs. Surrey, too, opened up their campaign with a victory, squeezing home in a nervy affair against the Essex Eagles by 8 runs.
Here are my selections for team of the week, following some incredible individual performances:
Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Worcestershire Royals): An outstanding display of power hitting from this young Englishman propelled the Royals to a monstrous total of 225-6. His 127 came from 54 balls, including 8 maximums and 14 fours – dispatching one Barry McCarthy over for 28 whose four overs eventually cost 63. Kohler-Cadmore did eventually depart midway through the 15th over, but the damage had already been done with the young opening batsman setting the foundations for a dominant performance from the hosts – who eventually came home as comfortable 38-run winners. The innings was all the more poignant as team-mate Tom Fell was given the all clear to resume his cricket career, following chemotherapy treatment for testicular cancer – Kohler-Cadmore had earlier this season pledged to shave his head in a fund-raising effort for Cancer Research and it was fitting that such an innings took place on what must've been an emotionally fuelled evening at New Road.
Sam Hain (Birmingham Bears): A cool, calm and well-paced innings from the Hong Kong-born batsman on T20 debut saw Birmingham home to a close six-wicket win. Hain never looked out of touch with the match situation, finding the boundary when necessary carrying his bat for 92 not out from 54 balls. It was a case of a cool head on young shoulders, when the youngster took his side to the brink of victory before Chris Woakes sealed it with a six in the final over. Hain's innings contained 12 fours, and 2 sixes and showed just what potential the young man has.
Jim Allenby (Somerset): A cracking 91 took Somerset to what looked like a match-winning total before being pipped to the post by an in-form Daniel Bell-Drummond and his Kent Spitfires side. Allenby contributed the majority of Somerset's total, clearing the boundary on three occasions and hitting 10 fours. His partnership of 139 with Peter Trego was crucial in Somerset posting an imposing total, however, bowling let the West Country side down and Kent stormed to an eight-wicket win, with 3 overs left in hand, leaving Allenby's efforts in vain.
Joe Denly (Kent Spitfires): Denly fired 75 in a first wicket partnership with Daniel Bell-Drummond (83*) of 150 – scoring his runs at a slightly quicker rate than his batting partner. His strike rate of 197.4 led the way for the Spitfire's in overhauling Somerset's challenging total of 197-7, eventually passing that target at a canter. Denly – who has five international t20 caps to his name – smashed six sixes in his perfectly paced innings, which along with his five fours kept his opponents always on the defensive and while it was left to Bell-Drummond to see the innings home, Denly had put his side well on top by the time he departed.
Ross Taylor (Sussex Sharks): New Zealand international Taylor was at his destructive best against a sorry Gloucestershire bowling attack, smashing a brilliant 93 not out off 48 balls – leading the way for Sussex to post the joint third highest total ever in English domestic T20, amassing a huge 242-5. Taylor's innings went at an incredible pace, and the Kiwi's 8 sixes doubled the amount of fours he hit. Sussex eventually did come home and get the win, although by a much closer margin than expected – Gloucestershire's rain-affected innings was abandoned after 7.3 overs and left them an agonising one run short of D/L par, with Michael Klinger stranded on 42*.
Phil Mustard (Durham Jets) Wicket-keeper: A valiant innings from the Durham keeper was in vain as Durham just didn't have the firepower to chase down a massive Worcestershire total. Mustard hit a measured 64 from 49 balls, holding together the Durham innings and maintaining any hope they had of forging an unlikely win. Bizarrely, there were no sixes in his innings – only 8 fours were struck but any hopes of victory were dashed when Mustard lacked the real support he needed. Durham eventually fell short by 38 runs, but Mustard can hold his head high as Durham's star performer on the day.
Azhar Mahmood (Surrey): The veteran made crucial contributions with bat and ball as Surrey edged past their Southern rivals Essex at Chelmsford. Mahmood's batting effort of 42 from 22 balls added late impetus to a stagnating Surrey innings, and in partnership with young Tom Curran fired 65 crucial runs in seven overs that eventually proved pivotal as the Londoners crept home by eight runs. Mahmood took the big wicket of Jesse Ryder, followed by promising young batsman Dan Lawrence next ball before curtailing Essex's late surge for victory, wrapping up the innings in the last over with two wickets in four balls. The T20 specialist ended up with figures of 4 for 38 from 3.4 overs and having seen his side home picked up the man-of-the-match award.
Jeetan Patel (Birmingham Bears): When Patel came to bowl the ninth over of Nottinghamshire's innings, Riki Wessels and Greg Smith were ticking along nicely at a steady run-rate of 7.50, Patel immediately made an impact, as so often the case for the Bears. The test-capped Kiwi's first over went for a measly five, but when his next went for 10 the off-spinner was under pressure. His third over changed the momentum of the innings, Patel removed Greg Smith for 43 in an over that went for just two, and in his last took the key wickets of set batsman Wessels for 52 and Samit Patel for just 4 – just two days after his namesake had smashed eight sixes off his bowling in a County Championship match. Patel ended up with outstanding figures of 3 for 23 from his four overs, helping the Bears restrict the Outlaws to a par-total, which was eventually chased down.
Joe Leach (Worcestershire Royals): Promising English paceman Leach picked up the first five-fer of this year's competition and saw his side to a comfortable victory over Durham. Leach opened the bowling for the Midlanders and quickly took the important wicket of Mark Stoneman for 25 in the 4th over. Leach then returned in the 14th over and took four wickets in his next 12 balls to put an end to any slim Durham hopes of victory. Leach removed the dangerous looking Phil Mustard for 64 before having Barry McCarthy caught at the wicket to seal his first T20 five-wicket haul.
Matthew Quinn (Essex Eagles): Another debutant impressed in the opening round of this year's Blast, young New Zealander Quinn took four wickets in his first appearance for the Eagles in taking impressive first figures of 4 for 35. Importantly for Essex, Quinn holds a British passport so does not count as an overseas player – despite spending much of his career in the New Zealand domestic game. Quinn did, however, start shakily, bowling two wides either side of a Jason Roy boundary but fought back later in the over to remove the dangerous Steven Davies. Auckland-born Quinn then struck with the first ball of his second, removing England opener Roy for 25 before following that up four balls later with the big wicket of Kumar Sangakkara, enticing the Sri Lankan into a top edge, having him caught at fine leg. Then he returned to remove Sam Curran to leave Surrey reeling at 82-6. Eventually, his efforts were not enough to stop Surrey from forcing victory, but his bowling performance will encourage his coaches and fans alike that wins will come as a result of his bowling
Seekkuge Prasanna (Northamptonshire): Sri Lankan spinner Prasanna’s relative unknown quantity proved the difference for Northamptonshire as his four overs went for a measly 21 runs before the leg-spinner strolled out to the wicket to seal the victory for Northants with a six from the only ball he faced after what had been a tense final over. Prasanna – who has one test cap to his name – took the important wicket of dangerous Irishman Kevin O'Brien as well as bowling eight dot balls in the course of his four overs. Impressively, Northamptonshire's overseas bowler only went for one boundary during his bowling spell – coming at the hands of Pakistani Umar Akmal who's contribution went just shy of obtaining a victory for the Leicestershire Foxes. Prasanna's leg spin could prove to be a handy asset for Northants with leg spin proving ever more dangerous in the shortest form of the game – as well as his variations coming in handy during those key middle overs; just as he showed against the Foxes.
Star Performer of The Week: Tom Kohler-Cadmore
By Charlie Jennings (@AVCJX)
Charlie Jennings - T20 Team of the Week Specialist
All Birmingham Bears Charlie Jennings Durham Essex Glamorgan Gloucestershire Joe Root Kent Kohler-Cadmore Lancashire Leicestershire Matt Quinn Michael Klinger Northamptonshire Nottinghamshire Phil Mustard Ravi Bopara Ross Taylor Sam Hain Somerset Surrey Sussex T20Blast VFTOtotw Worcestershire Yorkshire