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|RE Van Der Merwe||4.0||0||22||0||5.50|
An excellent summer so far has meant that the Vitality Blast 2018 has got off to an excellent start. Playing their first match of the competition will be Somerset and Gloucestershire. Somerset surprised a lot of people last year when it managed to qualify for the knockouts while Gloucestershire finished dead last. Both the sides seem to have a tough road ahead of them in order to qualify for the knockouts this year but they are certainly capable of pulling off a few surprises.
Which team will start the Vitality Blast 2018 better?
After a pretty successful T20 campaign last year, Somerset has decided to put its faith in Corey Anderson once again as the overseas player. There is very little doubt about Corey Anderson as a player. He is a ferocious hitter of the ball, a useful medium-pacer, and by all accounts an excellent team man.
There are a lot of questions about his fitness, though. Corey Anderson has not played cricket in almost a year and is going to be short of match practice coming into this tournament. We don’t think he will want to risk bowling again so soon and so may have to play as a batsman.
That is a pretty big gamble to take for a side that has only one overseas player on its roster.
Cameron Bancroft was supposed to play for Somerset this season but his contract was canceled in the aftermath of the ball-tampering saga.
Somerset will be hoping that Myburgh can produce the runs for them again this season and new T20 captain, Lewis Gregory is able to raise the standard of play. Roelof van der Merwe and Malcolm Waller will be the spin twins that try to lead the bowling attack for Somerset.
There are a couple of exciting batsmen to look out for in the Somerset team. Tom Banton has shown the ability to take apart attacks while George Bartlett is coming off a successful U-19 season as well.
Somerset players its matches at Taunton, which is one of the highest scoring grounds in the country. Having a good batting lineup to take maximum toll of the boundaries is important but having a bowling attack to be able to defend totals here is essential.
We don’t see that kind of bowling lineup in Somerset this year.
SM Davies, JG Myburgh, PD Trego, JC Hildreth, TB Abell, Corey Anderson, Lewis Gregory, RE Van Der Merwe, Jamie Overton, Josh Davey, MTC Waller.
Michael Klinger may have retired from cricket in Australia but he will still be around for two more seasons in Gloucestershire. His wife was detected with cancer last season and that obviously played havoc with his mental state but Klinger was still able to score enough runs to be the highest scorer for the Gloucestershire side last season.
If Gloucestershire has to move up in the group it must get its batting right. Not a single player reached 300 runs in total last year and there was a distinct lack of power. The acquisition of Ryan Higgins from Middlesex will help address the batting somewhat but players like Cockbain, Mustard, Taylor, and Howell must have a good season.
Benny Howell is one of the smartest T20 Bowlers going around the county circuit and has been pretty unlucky to not be a regular part of the England squad. He will be joined by Andrew Tye, one of the best T20 bowlers in the world, but only after Australia’s T20 series in Zimbabwe comes to an end.
Gloucestershire does not seem like a bad enough team to finish last but that is the strength of the group they are playing in. They won only two matches less than the five teams above them and we expect margins to be this tight this year as well.
Someone from Gloucestershire will have to have the season of their lives to be able to take this team to the knockouts.
M Klinger, MAH Hammond, IA Cockbain, Benny Howell, JW Taylor, GH Roderick, Ryan Higgins, Thisara Perera, Tom Smith, DA Payne, LC Norwell.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
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The weather forecast for match day is excellent. Sunny weather with almost no rain has been forecast. Good weather, an excellent pitch to bat on, and one of the shortest straight boundaries in the entire competition should make the bowlers shudder in fear.
We expect a score of 185-190 to be par for the day.
Somerset has lost the last four completed matches against Gloucestershire but will still enter the game as favorite. Home advantage and the presence of some exciting young batsmen in the squad should help it gain the upper hand, especially as Gloucestershire will be missing Tye for this match.
Back Somerset to win.