About the Match
The Natwest T20 Blast 2017 is about to kick off and starting off things for the North Group is going to be the Worcestershire Rapids taking on the Birmingham Bears. The matches are going to come thick and fast during the T20 Blast and so teams that get off on a bit of a run could find themselves in the reckoning come finals day.
The Rapids finished second from the bottom last year in the North Group. They won 5 of their 14 matches, not too bad considering the fact that the team that finished second in the group won 7. They would definitely be hoping to do a little bit better this time around and have a decent squad from which to pick.
Led by Joe Leach, the Rapids have New Zealand international Mitchell Santner and Aussie John Hastings as their overseas players. Moeen Ali is also a part of the squad, although, he will be unavailable due to International duty for large parts of the tournament.
The Rapids will be hoping that Joe Clarke continues his strong form at the end of the Royal London Cup where he scored a 90 and a 100 to lead the batting charge in the Natwest T20 Blast as well. The top scorer for their team last year was Brett D’Oliveira with 353 runs.
The big hitting capabilities will be provided Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Ross Whitely both of whom hit 15 sixes last time around and were two of the three batsmen in the squad that had a strike rate of above 150.
The stand out bowler for the Rapids is their skipper Jack Leach. His 20 wickets in the last season from 13 matches was the 4th
best in the competition and almost three times more than the next highest wicket-taker on his team.
The Bears finished 4th
from the bottom last year in a season that promised much but ended up being pretty disappointing. There is no doubt about the quality that the Bears possess and we really like their chances of making the finals this time around, provided some of their big players hit form at the right time.
Ian Bell, the former England International, and current Perth Scorchers (BBL) player has plenty of experience to share with the squad and plenty of motivation to do well as he tries to get back into the England side.
He will have three New Zealanders by his side to help him win matches in Jeetan Patel, Colin de Grandhomme and Grant Elliot (on Kolpak). The presence of these three players will lend tremendous balance to the side by giving them two excellent batting options and three very capable bowling options.
They also have Jonathan Trott, Rikki Clarke, Josh Poysden, Sam Hain, Ian Westwood and Chris Woakes in their squad.
Rikki Clarke was the highest wicket taker for the Bears last season with 15 wickets, followed by Oliver Hannon-Dalby with 12 and Jeetan Patel with 11.
The three of them will be again looked to by Ian Bell to contain and bowl out the opposition. The skipper will himself be hoping to have a repeat of last year’s season when he scored the 5th
most runs in the entire competition and most for the Bears, 489 with a team-high 16 sixes as well.
Bel, Sam Hain, deGrandhomme, Grant Eliot and William Porterfield in the same lineup could prove to be a formidable challenge for most teams although they would want to improve their power hitting from last time around.
The young leg-spinner, Josh Poysden, is also going to attract a lot of attention seeing as he is viewed as one of the bowlers likely to make the international grade in the future.
Pitch and Conditions
The pitch at Worcestershire is expected to be excellent for batting and weather permitting, we should see a high-scoring game. The weather is expected to be cloudy but a full game is expected to take place. Scores of around 170-180 should be considered par for a team batting first.
Birmingham Bears to win