T20 Team of the Week
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)
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