Our cricket writer takes a look at the last two quarter-finals of the 2016 edition of the Natwest T20 Blast.
The second two quarter-finals of the of the Natwest T20 Blast a due to get underway on Wednesday and Thursday with Gloucestershire taking on Durham and Glamorgan going head to head with Yorkshire.
Who will join Northants and Notts in the semi-finals? Our cricket writer takes a look below:
To Win Match
Gloucestershire 2/3| Tie 35/1| Durham 5/4
Two sides with slightly contrasting fortunes this season meet in the 3rd quarter final of the T20 Blast. Gloucestershire ensured they finished the season top of the South group table by winning ten of their fourteen matches while Durham, after losing six and winning six of their group stage games, managed to scrape through to the playoffs.
Despite losing James Taylor in April, after the talented young batsmen had to retire from the game due to a heart condition, Gloucestershire have gone on to win ten matches so far and lose only three along the way. They have their opening pair of batsmen to thank largely for that with Michael Klinger and Ian Cockbain being the tournament’s highest and second highest run scorers so far. The Australian Klinger, who also captains the side, has scored 530 runs in his thirteen innings with an average of fifty and good strike rate. He has also managed a century and four fifties. Cockbain is one run away from five hundred for the season and is averaging over sixty. Along with these strong openers, blast from the past New Zealander Hamish Marshall has scored 294 runs at an average of just over twenty while Chris Dent and Ben Howell have also performed admirably. Gloucestershire will be looking to the openers to do the work again in this game. Bowling wise, Howell has also taken the most wickets in the tournament with his 23 wickets coming atan average just over 15. Also in the mix are recently capped Australian Andrew Tye with seventeen wickets, Matt Taylor, brother of James, with thirteen wickets and Tom Smith with eleven wickets. Howell will hope to take a few more wickets here and along with the two opening batsmen will look to take Gloucestershire home.
The return of Paul Collingwood from injury will be a huge plus for Durham. The ageless all-rounder has a batting average of over 100 from his five games this season and has just signed a new contract with the club to play his 22nd season there. The absence of the captain was felt by Durham who lost six of their fourteen group stage games. Nobody in the side has really shone with the bat this season with only Phil Mustard (who kept wicket for England a few times), Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings (son of Ray), scoring over two hundred runs this season. The bulk of the runs will come from these three with Paul Collingwwod’s return adding some impetus to a struggling line-up. Scott Borthwick, who made his test debut for England against Australia in the fifth test of the doomed 2013/2014 Ashes series and has not played for England since, has seen his legbreaks take sixteen wickets this season at a very impressive average and economy. He is the best bowler in this side and he will have to shine on Wednesday if Durham have any chance. Chris Rushworth has managed 12 wickets at a very good average of just under nineteen and he will look to get early wickets to put pressure on Gloucestershire’s middle order. Paul Coughlin’s medium pacers have seen a return of seventeen wickets this season and along with Rushworth he will be entrusted to get rid of Klinger and Cockbain early on.
Verdict: Gloucestershire to win at 2/3
With the top two run scorers and the top wicket taker within their ranks it is very difficult to look past Gloucestershire here. Durham just don’t have the firepower to keep up with the strong top order and strike force that Gloucestershire possess and will find it very difficult away from home. This is the perfect game and price to add into your midweek accumulators.
To Win Match
Glamorgan 5/4| Tie 35/1| Yorkshire 2/3
Glamorgan owe a lot to the form of Colin Ingram this season. The forgotten man of South African Cricket has been a revelation this season and has scored 486 runs at an average just below forty five and a strike rate of 166. He has also scored a hundred and four half centuries and has been a huge factor in Glamorgan getting this far in the tournament. David Lloyd (not the Commentator), has chipped in with 382 runs and Aneurin Donald has managed 234 runs. Also in the line-up is South African Jacques Rudolph who has not been at his best this season but has played in all the games so far. Glamorgan had signed Dale Steyn for the first half of the season and he had a huge influence on the bowling. Steyn picked up eleven wickets in his five games at an average of a shade over ten and economy of just over six. Tim Van Der Gugten, the Dutch bowler, has managed seventeen wickets at a great average of just over fourteen. Michael Hogan has taken sixteen wickets this season and will be looking to add to that tally. A good mix of experience and youth then for Glamorgan who will be looking to pull a fast one over the more fancied Yorkshire in Wales.
I have been to Yorkshire and I can tell you that cricket is a religion in the region. Many of the folk will be very keen to tell a tale or two about the great Geoffrey Boycott and Fred Trueman who graced the county pitches back in the day. But this is T20 cricket and these days you are more likely to see the likes of David Willey, Tim Bresnan, Travis Head, Adam Lyth and Jack Leaning smashing bowlers all over the place. It was not a fantastic group stage for Yorkshire who only managed seven wins from their fourteen games but they have a team that can easily take them all the way. They will more than likely be without the likes of Jonny Bairstow and Gary Balance who are on England Duty and Travis Head who ahs been called up to the Australian One Day squad.. Yorkshire will look to the likes of Alex Lees, Lyth, Willey and Leaning to blast them to a competitive total. Bresnan has had a great season with the ball and has taken eighteen wickets at a good average and respectable economy rate. Liam Plunkett will be looking to improve on the ten wickets to his name this season while offspinner Azeem Rafiq will look to add to his collection of twelve wickets this season.
Verdict: Glamorgan to win at 5/4
Despite the odds being in Yorkshire’s favour here I think this game will go right down to the wire. The form of Ingram can’t be ignored and he is in sizzling form at the moment. I think this game will come down to which team bowls better and I think the home conditions in Wales will inspire Glamorgan to perform better than expected. Yorkshire will be without some big names and Travis Head leaving the team recently is a big loss for them. Back the outsiders here.
Written by Dale Vos for @Hollywoodbets.