- Vitality Blast
- North and South Group
- Friday July 1, 2022, 5.30pm-7pm
The Vitality Blast takes a place of significant prominence on the English Cricket calendar over the next fortnight as this competition plays to a conclusion at Finals Day on July 16.
Friday and Sunday are the final two rounds of group fixtures, next Wednesday to Saturday are when the quarter-finals take place before Finals Day at Edgbaston.
It shows how competitive this summer’s Blast has been that only one team - Surrey in the South Group - has so far mathematically booked their place in the quarters. Others are nearly there, but i’s needing dotting and t’s crossing.
There are eight fixtures tomorrow across the two groups, and two standout as absolute crackers - Hampshire v Gloucestershire and Yorkshire v Birmingham.
Pre-tournament tips Hampshire should secure 8/11 shot
Fourth-placed Hampshire in the South Group host Gloucestershire in fifth in front of the Sky cameras at the Ageas Bowl (7pm). Two points split the teams, with Hampshire having a marginally better net run-rate, the first separator when teams finish level on points.
If Hampshire win, they’re through and Gloucester are out. If Gloucester win, it goes down to Sunday.
I fully expect the former scenario, a Hampshire win. They are 8/11 with bet365 amongst others.
After losing their first four games, Hampshire have shown their quality by winning seven of their next eight.
Gloucester are pretty lucky to still be in with a chance of qualifying having only won five out of 12 so far. They have the fewest wins of any team still in with a chance of qualification from either group.
Hampshire beat them at Bristol by nine runs last Friday, and I expect them to do so again.
I also like the 5/1 bet365 are offering on Hampshire’s Australian opener Ben McDermott to hit the most sixes in the match.
His competition haul of 22 in 12 appearances is better than anyone else in this fixture, while he has hit nine more than 4/1 market leader, Gloucestershire’s Glenn Phillips (13) in only one more match.
Yorkshire v Birmingham points to runs, runs and more runs
I’ll be honest, I genuinely can’t call the result of this Headingley fixture (6.30pm), so I’m going to look at the runs and sixes markets for a couple of winners.
Between these two sides in this season’s Blast, there have been 10 totals of 200 plus posted - six to Birmingham, four to Yorkshire.
Birmingham posted a Blast record 261-2 against Notts at Trent Bridge earlier in the month, a record previously held by Yorkshire, who crashed 260-4 against Northants at Headingley back in 2017.
Historically, this is a high-scoring ground, and I like two prices both with bet365. The first is for over 344.5 runs to be scored in the match at 5/6. The second is for over 13.5 sixes to be hit at 4/5.
I could make strong cases for both in-form teams to win. The bookies have a similar view, with Yorkshire 10/11 (William Hill) and Birmingham 68/67 (vbet).
Birmingham are top of the North Group on 16 points having won three of their last four games, while Yorkshire are fourth on 15 having won four of their last five.
Yorkshire’s situation is particularly interesting. Depending on other results, they could end tomorrow night top of the group with a win or out of the top four with defeat.
If I had to choose a winner, it would be Yorkshire. They are on a roll, are particularly strong at home and beat the Bears by 10 wickets at Edgbaston last month. But, with two other bets I like, I’ll steer clear of the win market.
Quick-fire Acca to Finish
I also fancy Lancashire to beat lowly Worcestershire at New Road, Nottinghamshire to beat Durham at Trent Bridge, Hampshire to beat Gloucestershire as previously advised and Northamptonshire to win at Leicestershire.
This acca, with Betfair Sportsbook, stands at 5.82/1.
* Betting odds correct at the time of writing. All odds are subject to changes.