Free Cricket Tips on Vitality Blast (T20)

| July 18, 2019 | 3 Replies

Vitality Blast 2019

A preview of this season’s competition, along with recommended bets, is underneath. At the top of this page there will be regular updates of individual fixtures and selections. Bets on other markets (such as Top Batsman/Bowler) are likely to follow once line-ups are clearer after a few matches.

Results can be found here

Wednesday 4th September

It’s quarter-finals week, beginning with Lancashire against Essex but due to England and Australia playing at Old Trafford this has been moved to Durham’s Chester-Le-Street. That’s not an insignificant factor because it’s been a ground with low average scores and with a wicket that doesn’t quite come on to the bat and longer boundaries square of the wicket, the powerplay (first 6 overs) has been a crucial time for scoring quick runs while it’s been difficult to maintain momentum with pace taken off the ball later on.

With Lancashire unchanged- importantly for ‘home’ supporters Genn Maxwell is still available- after topping the North Group and Essex being the first team in the six years of the competition to sneak through with only 5 group wins, they are the rightful favourites, but Essex are not without hope and finished the group stages strongly. Essex have a strong and aggressive batting line-up, but Lancashire have an attack that should be suited to the conditions while Essex are without Mohammad Amir after an impressive summer with the ball.

The odds on Lancashire look fairly short, in both senses, and the way to play this might be to see where the game is likely to be won- quick runs in the powerplay or wickets when there’s a need to increase the tempo. Matt Parkinson is the leading wicket taker and will surely get a chance with England sooner rather than later. The question to be answered is whether his leg-spin is too slow for the international scene but there’s only one way to answer that. Parkinson also picked up 4 wickets here against Durham in the group stages.

Of Lancashire’s openers with the bat, Alex Davies and Liam Livingstone have similar records but are different types of player with the latter the bigger hitter but the former may be more suited to this ground despite being less likely to clear the ropes. The pair put on 57 for the first wicket when last here, chasing 139, and even though it was Livingstone who went on to score 70, it’s Davies who is slightly favoured.

Lancashire V Essex. Man of the Match. Matt Parkinson. 0.25 points. (15 Betway) 13 various

Lancashire V Essex. Man of the Match. Alex Davies. 0.25 points. 12 Bet365/BetVictor/PaddyPower/Betfair Sportsbook/Betway


Selections for Thursday 29th August

Selections only today due to time constraints.

Middlesex win. 1 point. 1.8 various bookmakers

Kent win. 1 point. 1.99 Marathon, 1.98 Unibet/888Sport, 1.91 various



No selections for Wednesday 28th August

Tuesday 27th August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.30 Durham 1.57 (63.7%) V Birmingham 2.75 (36.4%)

6.30 Surrey 2.1 (41.6%) V Somerset 1.75 (57.1%)

Comments and Selections

It’s between Worcester, Northants and Durham for the final quarter-final place from the North Group, with the latter two needing to win both of their remaining games and hope Worcester lose both of theirs. If that happens it will come down to Net Run Rate which could also be very close and lead to some nervous calculations being made on Friday evening. We could do with Durham prevailing to aid D’Arcy Short’s chances of giving a return in the Tournament’s Top Scorer market made last month.

Durham’s batting has been split between the brilliance of their openers and ineptitude once they are out with the last two games summing it up- 79/0 and failed to chase 117, then 70/0 to 132 all out. Short is the obvious favourite to be their top scorer and is understandly an unattractive price, but his partner, Scott Steel, is the value having passed 30 six times out of nine.

The South Group is too convoluted to attempt to go through all the permutations, but both Surrey and Somerset can still qualify, though Somerset may need to beat Middlesex in their final game regardless of what happens tonight. Surrey simply must win or are out.

Durham Top Scorer. Scott Steel. 0.5 points. 5 Boyles/PaddyPower/Betfair Sportsbook


Monday 26th August

Two games but both short favourites- Lancashire and Sussex- have already qualified, so probably best to step aside and not have a bet today.


Sunday 25th August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

2.30 Birmingham 1.67 (59.9%) V Northants 2.38 (42%)

2.30 Hampshire 1.73 (57.8%) V Essex 2.2 (45.5%)

2.30 Leicester 2 (50%) V Derby 1.83 (54.6%)

2.30 Worcester 2 (50%) V Lancs 1.91 (52.4%)

3.30 Notts 1.57 (63.7%) V Yorks 2.62 (38.2%)

Comments and Selections

As commented on Thursday, Hampshire’s batting has relied too much on Vince, whereas Essex now have a settled and aggressive batting line-up. Although Hampshire have a solid bowling attack, it’s the extra depth in Essex’s batting that means I would have them as slight favourites.

It was great to see Moeen Ali back to his best with the bat for Worcester on Friday and the Rapids do now have a top 5 less reliant upon their openers. However, Lancashire are top of the table by a clear margin for good reason and do have the stronger side overall. (Though the are likely to be without Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner in the knock-outs.)

Essex. 1 point win. 2.2 various bookmakers

Lancashire. 1 point win. (1.91 Coral) 1.8 various



Saturday 24th August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

2.30 Sussex 2 (50%) V Middlessex 2 (50%)

7.00 Somerset 1.53 (65.4%) V Glamorgan 2.75 (36.4%)

Comments and Selections

Middlesex took the option of an extra bowler on Thursday and have the same squad for today, still missing de Villiers. These leaves them vulnerable to a collapse and add pressure on their upper-order. Sussex top the table and win will secure their qualification but without Rashid Khan and Tyral Mills (and Jofra Archer) their bowling is weaker and that’s enough doubt not to back them here.

Glamorgan are without a win in the whole competition and are the only side without a chance of qualifying. They’ve taken the opportunity to blood a few 2nd teamers. With Somerset’s openers the top 2 leading scorers in the competition, the small ground and perfect batting wicket at Taunton plus a rookie bowling attack, this is an opportunity for the pair to dominate the match. Tom Banton is the better value of the pair, while Tom Abell has been the most destructive of the rest of Somerset’s batting and also looks value should Glamorgan manage to take early wickets.

Somerset win. 1 point. 1.53 William Hill/ Betfair Sportsbook, 1.5 various

Somerset V Glamorgan Man-of-the-Match. Tom Banton. 0.25 points. 10 Ladbrokes/Coral/SportingBet/Bwin

Somerset V Glamorgan Man-of-the-Match. Tom Abell. 0.25 points. 17 various


Friday 23rd August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.30 Durham 2  (50%) V Yorkshire 1.91 (52.4%)

6.30 Gloucester 2.3 (43.5%) V Somerset 1.67 (59.9%)

6.30 Leicester 2.5 (40%) V Notts 1.61 (62.1%)

7.00 Birmingham 2.3 (43.5%) V Worcester 1.73 (57.8%)

7.00 Derby 1.8 (55.6%) V Northants 2.15 (46.5%)

7.00 Kent 2 (50%) V Surrey 1.9 (52.6%)

Comments and Selections

A good night to largely avoid last night. Middlesex went for the extra bowling option and paid for having such a long tail by losing their last 6 wickets for 7 runs with their numbers 7 to 11 adding just 4 between them.

Birmingham’s runs have largely come from Hain and Hose with the latter batting at number 3 being the value call. Worcester are without Callum Ferguson but have Moeen Ali back and have resigned New Zealander Hamish Rutherford wo was opening at the start of the season for them in the 50 over games. Wayne Parnell has been scoring quick runs and with Wessels and Guptill often giving strong starts, their batting now has a far stronger edge. For Birmingham, Fidel Edwards has finished his loan spell for them and this further depletes their bowling.

Kent have lost the runs and economical bowling of Mohammad Nabi and with Adam Milne out for the season are without two of their main four bowlers. Sam Curran and Ollie Pope are able to play for Surrey after being realeased by England.

Top Birmingham Bears Batsman. Adam Hose. 0.5 points. 5 Betfair Sportsbook/PaddPower/Spreadex/BetHard/Bet365

Worcester. 1 point win. 1.73 SkyBet/Unibet, 1.72 PaddyPower/Betfair Sportsbook/SportingBet/Bwin

Surrey. 1 point win. 1.9 SportingBet/Bwin, 1.85 Unibet/888Sport


Thursday 22nd August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.15 Middlesex 1.67 (59.9%) V Hampshire 2.3 (43.5%)

7.00 Sussex 1.67 (59.9%) V Essex 2.3 (43.5%)

Comments and Selections

Middlesex have so far been playing 5 batsmen, a ‘keeper and 5 bowlers which has left a tail but the runs of Toby Roland-Jones has been an unexpected boost at number 7. They don’t have AB de Villiers for this game, but do have Pakistani all-rounder Mohammad Harfeez. That, though, leaves a dilemma of whether that is a straight swap or if he takes the place of a bowler and an extra batsman is added. If the latter then they do look to have a better balance.

Hampshire are without opener Aneurin Donald due to concussion and injured spinners Mason Crane and Brad Taylor but have signed South African spinner Tabraiz Shamsi in time for tonight’s game. With James Vince not getting enough support with runs at the other end and Sam Northeast struggling to score at a reasonable rate, the have underachieved so far which makes Middlesex the rightful favourites but don’t look to offer too much value.

Sussex are without batsman Delray Rawlins, spinner Rashid Khan and paceman Tymal Mills but have signed Australian seamer Jason Behrendorff. However, they have five who have scored plenty and are on the verge of qualification to the knockouts.

Essex have relied on their top four for the bulk of their runs and have yet to find a settled bowling attack. As above, Sussex are the rightful favourites but don’t look to ofer great value at the prices.

The one bowler who looks most likely to influence the game is left-armer Reece Topley against his old club. He was on the fringes of the England squad a few years ago until injuries got in the way, he’s the leading wicket taker involved tonight and picked up 4 wickets against Hampshire to earn the man-of-the-match award and then 3 against Glamorgan, both at home as is tonight’s game.

Sussex V Essex Man-of-the-Match. Reece Topley. 0.25 points. 21 888Sport/Unibet, 17 various



Next selections Thursday 22nd August. Rain looks very likely to interfere with all of Friday’s games and there’s then a break before the next round of fixtures.

A remarkable defeat for Durham last night. After keeping Worcester to 117, Durham were 79/0 from their first 68 balls but then only scored 35 from the remaining 52 balls to finish on 114/6. Failing to get there and being bowled out, okay, not good but it happens. However to fail to score above 4 an over with all wickets in hand in a T20, even at the end, is baffling.

On next week’s return, there looks to be all to play for in the remaining group games and there should be ante-post selections still live when the competition reaches the knock-out stages.

Thursday 15th August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.30 Durham 2.3 (43.5%) V Worcester 1.67 (59.9%)

6.30 Surrey 2.3 (43.5%) V Sussex 1.73 (57.8%)

7.00 Derby 1.8 (55.6%) V Leicester 2.1 (47.6%)

Comments and Selections

Both Durham and Worcester have been relying on runs from their openers but have closely matched line-ups. The only notable absentee in Worcester’s Moeen Ali and that perhaps tips the balance in Durham’s favour. All of Worcester’s main bowlers have been going at 8+ runs per over whereas Durham have three who have been more economical. With a decent record at home and the better odds, Durham look the value call.

Reece, Godleman, Madsen and du Plooy have scored the vast majority of Derby’s runs- each between 235 and 280- with the next in line a long way back on 79. The odds on the first three are each 4.5 but du Plooy who was a pick here previously, albeit unsuccessfully, at 6.5 and with three scores of 50+ is the logical choice.

Former West Indies bowler Ravi Rampaul is the outstanding bowler in the same game with the best economy rate and most wickets. If the runs are shared around (and no-one in the Leicester side has yet to reach 70) then he’s the most likely game-changer with big wickets.

Durham. 1 point win. 2.3 BetVictor/Bet365, 2.25 various

Top Derbyshire Batsman. Du Plooy. 0.5 points. 6.5 Unibet/Spreadex/888Sport, 6 various

Derby V Leicester. Man of the Match. Ravi Rampaul. 0.25 points. 19 Unibet/888Sport, 17 Ladbrokes/Coral/SortingBet/Bwin


Wednesday 14th August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.30 Northants 2.6 (38.5%) V Lancashire 1.57 (63.4%)

7.00 Essex 2.25 (44.4%) V Middlesex 1.67 (59.9%)

7.00 Kent 1.45 (69%) V Glamorgan 3 (33.3%)

Comments and Selections

A strange game last night with Hampshire racing to 62/1 off 38 balls and then only adding 77/4 off the remaining 82.

Lancashire’s performances have dipped a little lately and they’ve been overly reliant on Glen Maxwell while Northants have picked up, restricting Leicester and Durham to low totals recently. Lancs are worthy favourites though but there’s enough doubt not to be involved.

Middlesex don’t have de Villiers for a while, but have added Pakistan’s Mohammad Hafeez to boost both departments and Eoin Morgan is back in the squad after a back spasm. Considering the strength of Middlesex’s batting and the amount of runs Essex have been conceding- in home games 174 v Surrey in 15 overs, 225 v Somerset plus having totals easily knocked off including by Middlesex last time they met (166/3 in 17 overs)- Middlesex will fancy their chances of outscoring their hosts.

Glamorgan now have their two overseas players, Fakhar Zaman and Shaun Marsh, available and joining David Lloyd and Colin Ingram in their top four to make them now capable of pulling off an upset or two. They’re still not worth backing at only 2/1 but that does make them less opposable.

When Stephen Finn slips into a rhythm he’s still more than a handful with pace and extra bounce. He was outstanding against Surrey in particular and is now the joint leading wicket taker in the competition. He tends to bowl in the second half of an innings and in current form may well pick up vital wickets.

Middlesex. 1 point win. 1.67 various bookmakers

Essex V Middlesex. Man of the Match. Stephen Finn. 0.25 points. 17 Betway/PaddyPower/Betfair Sportsbook/Bet365


Tuesday 13th August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.30 Gloucester 2.2 (45.5%) V Hampshire 1.8 (55.6%)

7.00 Derby 2.38 (42%) V Worcester 1.67 (59.9%)

Comments and Selections

First a bet to add for The Ashes. With James Anderson, Mark Wood and Ollie Stone all injured, England’s pace bowling attack picks itself. With Jofra Archer replacing Anderson and Jack Leach in for Moeen Ali, this gives Stuart Broad (6 wickets in the first Test), Chris Woakes (4) and Ben Stokes (4) a head start. Stokes is unlikely to bowl as much unless there’s a similar mid-game injury- after what appened to Anderson at Edgbaston, England will be extra careful not to let that happen again- and without Ali’s batting Woakes’s position becomes increasingly secure otherwise it would leave an unusually long tail.

With Broad a best price 2.1 and odds-on in places to be England’s leading wicket taker in the series and Woakes a far more generous price, he’s the clear value call.

Gloucestershire are without key bowler Bennie Howell who has also chipped in with a couple of quickfire 20s and a 33 with the bat. Hampshire have the same squad available.

Six players have topped 100 runs for Gloucester so far but none have passed 200 and their innings have been full of cameos. The plan seems to be for number 3 Ian Cockbain to keep the runs ticking over and let those at the other end look for the bigger shots. He’s topscored with 40 (twice) and 61 in the last 6 games and looks to be a backable price.

England Top Bowler (in the Ashes series). Chris Woakes. 1 point. 4.5 Betfair Sportsbook, 4.33 BetVictor/SkyBet/Bet365

(note this is for the series and not the 2nd Test)

Hampshire. 1 point win. 1.8 SkyBet/SportingBet/Bwin

Top Gloucestershire Batsman. Ian Cockbain. 0.25 points. 5.5 PaddyPower/Betfair Sportsbook/Spreadex


Sunday 11th August (no games on Monday)


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

2.30 Birmingham 2.38 (42%) V Lancashire 1.62 (61.7%)

2.30 Durham 2.38 (42%) V Notts 1.62 (61.7%)

2.30 Glamorgan 2.5(40%)  V Surrey 1.57 (63.7%)

2.30 Middlesex 1.67 (59.9%) V Gloucester 2.3 (43.5%)

2.30 Worcester 1.53 (65.4%) V Northants 2.75 (36.4%)

3.00 Yorkshire 1.62 (61.7%) V Derby 2.5 (40%)


Lancashire. 1 point win. 1.62 BetFred/BlackType, 1.61 various

Surrey. 1 point win. 1.57 various bookmakers

Middlessex. 1 point win. 1.67 various bookmakers


Saturday 10th August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

7.00 Somerset 1.73 (57.8%) V Kent 2.1 (47.6%)

Comments and Selections

Billings is back for Kent and they are now close to full strength. However, Somerset have bounced back from a poor start and their two openers are 1st and 4th in the leading scorers table. One to watch with the importance of the wickets of Somerset’s top order pivotal. No selections.


Friday 9th August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.30 Glamorgan 2.5 (40%) V Essex 1.62 (61.7%)

6.30 Lancashire 1.62 (61.7%) V Yorkshire 2.5 (40%)

6.30 Leicester 1.91 (52.4%) V Northants 2 (50%)

6.30 Surrey 1.67 (59.9%) V Gloucester 2.4 (41.7%)

7.00 Birmingham 2.38 (42%) V Notts 1.7 (58.8%)

7.00 Derby 1.91 (52.4%) V Durham 2 (50%)

7.00 Hampshire 1.82 (54.9%) V Somerset 2.05 (48.8%)

7.00 Sussex 1.75 (57.1%) V Middlesex 2.2 (45.5%)

Comments and Selections

Not very ambitious selections perhaps, but playing the percentage game I would have these favourites still more likely to win than the odds suggest. Parkinson’s slow spin is worth a small punt against Yorkshire depleted batting line-up but stakes for these more speculative selections do need to be smaller than the match bets.

Essex. 1 point. 1.62 SkyBet, 1.57 various bookmakers

Lancashire. 1 point win. 1.62 SkyBet/Boyles/WilliamHill

Lancs V Yorkshire. Matthew Parkinson. Man of the Match. 0.25 points . 15 various

Leicester. 1 point win. 1.9 SportingBet/Bwin/Spreadex

Surrey. 1 point win. 1.62 various


Thursday 8th August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.15 Middlesex 1.67 (59.9) V Surrey 2.3 (43.5%)

Comments and Selections

Surrey have underperformed so far, but have missed key players and are now getting closer to being back to full strength. Ben Foakes, Ollie Pope, Sam Curran and Tom Curran have all played for England since the start of last season in one form or another and have been unavailable at times so far, but are all in tonight’s squad and captain Jade Dernbach also returns.

Early wickets was the difference when the two sides met earlier in the season- Middlessex took them, Surrey didn’t- and despite an excellent top order, Middlesex do have a bit of a tail behind them whereas Surrey bat deeper with their collection of genuine all-rounders.

These are two strong sides, but Surrey do have the stronger bowling unit, even if they haven’t always shown it this season, and at the prices I have to be with the away side.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of wickets are going to spinners, especially when teams are chasing large totals. If Gareth Batty picks up a couple of big players when the heat is on then he’ll be a contender for Man of the Match at a big price. He’s picked up 3 wickets twice so far, including numbers 3, 4 and 5 against Sussex and tends to bowl later than Imran Tahir, Surrey’s other spinner. At a small stake only, he’s worth chancing at this price.

Surrey. 1 point win. 2.3 WilliamHill/Spreadex, 2.25 BetVictor/Boyles/BlackType

Gareth Batty. Man of the Match. 0.25 points. 26 Ladbrokes/Coral/Betway/SportingBet/Bwin


Wednesday 7th August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.30 Gloucester 2.5 (40%) V Kent 1.61 (62.1%)

6.30 Leicester 2.38 (42%) V Birmingham 1.66 (60.2%)

6.30 Northants 2.2 (45.5%)  V Durham 1.73 (57.8%)

7.00 Essex 1.91 (52.4%) V Somerset 2 (50%)

Comments and Selections

Somerset are winning games they look like losing and losing games they look like winning, but without Gregory, Trego and Myburgh the batting is weaker than it has been while the regular bowling attack is leaking far too many runs. The return of Bopara is a boost for Essex in both departments and key bowler Jamie Porter is available for the first time this season.

Top of the group Kent are one bowler down and Billings isn’t ready to return, but should still be too strong for Gloucester who are the only team to fail to beat Glamorgan and there’s a gulf in quality between those two and the other seven sides in the southern group.

Kent. 1 point win. 1.61 Ladbrokes/Coral, 1.59 Marathon

Essex. 1 point win. 1.91 Ladbrokes/Coral/WilliamHill


Tuesday 6th August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

7.00 Sussex 1.36 (73.5%) V Glamorgan 3.25 (30.8%)

Comments and Selections

Sussex should win this given their strength throughout and Glamorgan’s struggles, especially in scoring runs (44 all out against Surrey, 96/8 when rain stopped play against Gloucester, 87 all out against Hampshire, 136 all out against Middlesex).

The value here could be in backing Sussex’s openers- if Sussex bat first we have fair value and if Glamorgan bat first and post a small total, it would only require a moderate score for either to be unable to be threatened. They would also have an advantage should the game lose a few overs to any rain.

Phil Salt needs 58 for us to have two of the ante-post top batsmen picks in the top 5 scorers in the tournament so far and has 2 fifties to his name already, while Luke Wright has scored 144 in his last four innings.

Phil Salt. Sussex Top Batsman. 0.5 points. 4.8 BetVictor, 4 Unibet/888Sport/Quinn/WilliamHill/Bet365

Luke Wright. Sussex Top Batsman. 0.5 points. 4.33 WilliamHill, 4 Bet365/888Sport/Unibet


Sunday 4th August (there are no matches on Monday)


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

2.30 Gloucestershire 2.75 (36.4%) V Sussex 1.57 (63.7%)

2.30 Middlesex 1.8 (55.6%) V Somerset 2.3 (43.5%)

2.30 Worcester 1.45 (69%) V Leicester 3.25 (30.8%)

2.30 Yorkshire 1.8 (55.6%) V Birmingham 2.15 (46.5%)

3.00 Kent 1.8 (55.6%) V Hampshire 2.1 (47.6%)

Comments and Selections

There are two games where the best odds are just about backable, but there’s then a considerable gap to the 2nd best odds available which are no more than fair. For that reason I won’t add them here as selections as I suspect those stand-out prices will move in line with the others pretty swiftly. Otherwise, the prices look as should be and without a game on Sky other markets also have limited availability, so there are no recommended bets for today.


Saturday 3rd August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

7.00 Lancashire 1.73 (57.8%) V Notts 2.2 (45.5%)

Comments and Selections

No major team changes are expected, Lancs top the North Group while Notts look to be coming back into form and confidence and these prices look as they should be so no bet on the match result for today. However, Tom Moores top scored with 69 last night, batting at 4, following 44 in the previous game. He has a good average in this format and an impressive scoring rate- 144 per hundred balls- and looks the value call to be Notts highest scorer.

Nottinghamshire Top Batsman. Tom Moores. 0.25 points win. 7 various


Friday 2nd August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.30 Durham 2.5 (40%) V Lancashire 1.62 (61.7%)

6.30 Gloucester 1.91 (52.4%) V Essex 2 (50%)

6.30 Notts 1.67 (59.9%) V Birmingham 2.3 (43.5%)

6.30 Somerset 1.91 (52.4%) V Surrey 2 (50%)

6.30 Yorkshire 1.91 (52.4%) V Worcester 2 (50%)

7.00 Hampshire 1.53 (65.4) V Glamorgan 2.75 (36.4%)

7.00 (On Sky) Northants 1.85 (54.1%) V Derby 2.1 (47.6%)

7.00 Sussex 1.8 (55.6%) V Kent 2.2 (54.5%)

Comments and Selections

A win, a loss and a tie (stakes returned) last night. Too much to get through to add detailed notes today, as is the Friday norm, so I’ll just add today’s selections and the odd important note.

Somerset are without skipper Lewis Gregory- a loss with bat, ball and leadership- and Peter Trego. Sam Curran is back for Surrey.

Yorkshire have Adil Rashid and captain Steve Patterson back in their squad but are without Nicolas Pooran. Worcester are without Brett D’Oliveira

Sussex have Jofra Archer and Chris Jordan available against unbeaten Kent.

South African du Plooy is Derby’s top scorer, bats at 4 and has hit two half-centuries from 4 innings so far.

Essex. 1 point win. 2 Ladbrokes/Coral, 1.91 various

Surrey. 1 point win. 2 WilliamHill/BetFred/Spreadex

Hampshire. 1 point win. 1.53 SportingBet/Bwin/Bet365, 1.5 various

Derbyshire. 1 point win. 2.1 Ladbrokes/Coral/SportingBet/Bwin

Derbyshire Top Batsman. Leus du Ploy. 0.5 points. 8 PaddyPower/Betfair Sportsbook, 7 BetFred/SkyBet/Spreadex


Thursday 1st August


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.15 Middlesex 1.8 (55.6%) V Kent 2.2 (45.5%)

7.00 Essex 1.91 (52.4%) V Hampshire 1.95 (51.3%)

7.00 Glamorgan 2.5 (40%) V Gloucester 1.61 (62.1%)

Comments and Selections

There weren’t any bets for last night, but one of the pre-tournament bets to be Top Runscorer, D’Arcy Short, scored 70 to (temporarily) lead the scoring table.

Middlesex are finally at full strength with Eoin Morgan (England), Paul Stirling (Ireland) and AB de Villiers (missed last two games after injuring one hand and then the other) all available. While that’s the case and with openers Dawid Malan and Stephen Eskinazi making excellent starts they have arguably the strongest batting line-up in the competition.

They come up against a Kent bowling attack that’s also been impressive though. However, Kent are still without key batsmen Sam Billings and Joe Denly which means there’s a considerable gulf in quality between these two batting line-ups and given the speed that the Middlesex batsmen naturally score at, they should be capable of posting or chasing a total beyond Kent.

Pakistani paceman Mohammad Amir, who was very impressive in the World Cup, is available for the first time for Essex after Visa issues. However, it’s an otherwise unexceptional bowling attack and their batting is weakened without Chopra and Bopara.

Hampshire are at full strength and should be favourites here with a wider range of potential match winners, deeper batting and a superior all-round bowling attack.

Glamorgan are really struggling with the bat and were in deep trouble against Gloucestershire before being saved by rain when they met a fortnight ago. There won’t be many times this Gloucester side are heavily odds on, but such are Glamorgan’s struggles- other than Lloyd and Ingram they are collectively 265 for 26 wickets this season- and with little in their records to suggest a turnaround is likely, Gloucester are still worth backing.

Middlesex. 1 point win. 1.8 SportingBet/Bwin, 1.73 various

Hampshire. 1 point win. 1.95 BetVictor, 1.91 various

Gloucestershire. 1 point win. 1.61 SportingBet/Bwin, 1.6 BlackType, 1.58 Unibet


Wednesday 31st July


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

5.00 Worcestershire 1.5 (66.7%) V Derbyshire 2.75 (36.4%)

6.30 Durham 1.67 (59.9%) V Leicestershire 2.38 (42%)

Comments and Selections

Worcester are able to name the same eleven, with no new injuries. They are the holders but miss Moeen Ali (England) and Joe Clarke (now with Nottinghamshire) who were their two leading scorers last season. Without them their batting does look a little light and only openers Guptill and Wessels have been in the runs so far.

Derbyshire also name the same squad. Despite scoring a respectable amount of runs, they have a much changed bowling attack this year and are yet to have a settled attack. In particular, their support bowlers have been plundered for far too many and because of that I think this is a game best left alone.

The weather forecast for Durham is not good, so if there is play it could be a reduced overs game. Although Durham are the rightful favourites here, Leicester’s one win so far came against Notts when that was rain affected and shortened, so this one is also worth side-stepping.

Last night’s game was reduced to 7 overs a side and, at least with all the bookmakers I’ve checked with, the standard policy is to void Top Batsman bets if an innings is reduced to under 10 overs, therefore bets on Ben Foakes should have been voided with stakes returned.


Tuesday 30th July


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.30 Surrey 1.8 (55.6%) V Kent 2 (50%)

Comments and Selections

Surrey have Jason Roy, Rory Burns and Sam Curran away with England, plus Jade Dernbach and Liam Plunkett out with injuries, although Ben Foakes is likely to return. As mentioned previously, they look a batsman short and now without three key bowlers they are looking weaker all round, as most sides would if missing half of their first choice XI. In their last game, Will Jacks opened the bowling despite only bowling two overs in thirteen previous T20s.

Kent have their regular bowling attack all available and one of their three missing batsmen, Heino Kuhn, returned in their last match.

Considering he batted at number 4 (with Sam Curran at 3) when last available, Ben Foakes looks the value call to be Surrey’s top scorer. Prior to that he’d passed 50 in 5 of Surrey’s last 6 matches, so was in decent nick. If he doesn’t play then stakes will be returned.

Kent. 1 point. 2 various bookmakers

Surrey Top Batsman. Ben Foakes. 0.25 points. 7 SkyBet/PaddyPower/Betfair Sportsbook/BetFred


Sunday 28th July (no games on Monday)


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

2.30 Derbyshire 2.75 (36.4%) V Lancashire 1.55 (64.5%)

2.30 Northants 2.5 (40%) V Yorkshire 1.67 (59.9%)

2.30 Worcester 1.67 (59.9%) V Durham 2.38 (42%)

2.30 Somerset 2.11 (47.4%) V Sussex 1.8 (55.6%)

Comments and Selections

Derby/Lancs looks like being affected by the weather. That could mean a reduced overs game which can narrow any gap in quality and tip value towards outsiders but with the likes of Maxwell and Livingstone, Lancashire would still be the most likely winners.

Yorkshire have the same squad available that narrowly lost to Lancashire. Northants did pull off a surprise against Birmingham but that was affected by rain and was a first home win for two years.

Last year’s winners Worcester are probably marginally the more likely against Durham but at the same time not strong enough to offer value at this price and Durham’s openers (including D’Arcy Short, one of our 4 selections to be the tournament’s top scorer) are too much of a danger although their bowling remains weak.

Somerset have a strong side but their overseas bowler, Jerome Taylor, is struggling. Following expensive opening spells in the first two games, his last 9 balls went for 31 against Hampshire as they chased down Somerset’s total in the last over from a seemingly impossible position.

Alex Carey is available for Sussex although Jofra Archer is unavailable after his call-up to England’s Test squad.

Yorkshire. 1 point win. 1.67 SkyBet, 1.63 various


Saturday 27th July

No selections. Only two games, Notts are rightly a very short price (1.44) while in the other Essex’s batting makes them the right favourites but their bowling isn’t strong enough to back them at 1.67 and the batting markets for once seem to have consider likely batting orders.


Friday 26th July


6.30 Glamorgan 2.38 (42%) V Middlesex 1.63 (61.3%)

6.30 Lancashire 1.8 (55.6%) V Worcestershire 2.2 (45.5%)

6.30 Leicester 2.2 (45.5%) V Durham 1.73 (57.8%)

6.30 Northants 2.3 (47.5%) V Birmingham 1.7 (58.8%)

6.30 Somerset 1.8 (55.6%) V Hampshire 2.11 (47.4%)

7.00 Derbyshire 2.41 (41.5%) V Notts 1.67 (59.9%)

7.00 Kent 1.8 (55.6%) V Essex 2.1 (47.6%)

7.00 Sussex 1.73 (57.8%) V Surrey 2.2 (45.5%)

Comments and Selections

It’s hard to see Glamorgan or Northants winning many this year and they are worth opposing while the bookies continue to price cautiously. For Middlesex, A B de Villiers was ruled out late last night with a finger injury but may return if able but otherwise there are no changes. Glamorgan were bowled out for 44 last night but only scored 71 in 12 overs in the middle of their innings against Somerset and were 96/8 against a modest Gloucester attack before rain rescued them.

With big players returning ahead of schedule, Lancashire look a well balanced side again, while Worcester have lost Moeen Ali to England duty.

Somerset have struggled when bowling in the Powerplay and it’ll be worth keeping an eye on whether their approach changes tonight.

Kent have Kuhn back but are still without Billings (plus Denly).

Surrey have been too short of runs and without Jason Roy and the injured Ben Foakes they look a batsman light again although it’s just a matter of time before the likes of Finch and Pope come good. Jofra Archer is set to play for Sussex who will shortly be boosted by the presence of Alex Carey who has surprisingly been left out of Australia’s Ashes squad.

Without a televised game tonight, other markets are not widely available enough.

Middlesex. 1.5 points win. 1.62 various bookmakers

Lancashire. 1 point win. 1.73 various

Birmingham. 1 point win. 1.7 Unibet/888Sport, 1.67 various


Thursday 25th July


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds (chance of winning these odds imply).

 2.30 Gloucestershire 2.3 (43.5%) V Middlesex 1.67 (59.9%)

6.30 Surrey 1.53 (65.4%) V Glamorgan 2.62 (38.2%)

7.00 Yorkshire 1.91 (52.4%) V Lancashire 2 (50%)

Comments and Selections

Due to the early start in the first game and the need to press on with the weekend’s horse racing, I’m just going to add the selections on this occasion. (I’ll add a link to results spreadsheet over the weekend.)

Middlesex win. 1 point. 1.67 Sky/Hills/SportingBet/Bwin

Surry win. 1 point. 1.53 Unibet/Victor/888/Marathon

Yorkshire win. 1 point. 1.91 BetFred/Sky/Coral/Lads/Victor/BlackType

Nicolas Pooran. Top Yorkshire Batsman. 0.5 points. 7 SportingBet/Bwin, 6.5 Bet365, 6 SkyBet/Ladbrokes/Coral


Wednesday 24th July


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.30 Nottinghamshire 1.53 (65.4%) V Northants 2.62 (38.2%)

7.00 Birmingham 1.62 (61.7) V Derbyshire 2.38 (42%)

7.00 Sussex 1.82 (54.9%) V Hampshire 2.01 (49.8%)

Comments and Selections

Yorkshire were comfortable winners last night and Surrey again went for too many runs and were always up against it after losing Finch early. At time of writing, the Joe Denly bet as England’s Top Batsman has just been successful at 5/1 with England skittled before lunch against Ireland.

A bit like Yorkshire against Leicester last night, Notts should be too good for Northants. The hosts have the same side available but could opt to boost their bowling with Luke Fletcher available. However, their form hasn’t been strong enough to back them at this price.

Birmingham Bears have lost Colin de Grandhomme and Grant Elliot as their overseas players from last season, are also without Chris Woakes and Oli Stone due to England duty and have five other squad players unavailable. Fidel Edwards has joined on loan and made an instant impact by taking three weeks in the first over of the game against Leicestershire that led to a comfortable victory.

The ease of that victory may mask the fact that this year the Bears are not likely to be roaring as loudly as normal and this short price is perhaps a result of the combination of that start and historical strength. Derbyshire are able to name the same side that beat Yorkshire in their opener and the price between these two sides should be closer.

Sussex and Hampshire are both strong sides, but the away side’s batting is marginally stronger and as Sussex are without Archer and Chris Jordan- their only two pace bowlers to take more than 7 wickets in the whole of last season- the same applies to the bowling attacks.

Delray Rawlins made his T20 debut last year and despite only playing 9 games was Sussex’s 4th highest scorer and scored his runs at a rate of 146 per 100 balls. He’s batted at number 4 previously, scored a century in Sussex’s last Championship game, following a half-century against Australia A. A player batting in the top four who is in form and scores quickly is worth a small stake at these odds.

Derbyshire win. 1 point. 2.375 PaddyPower/Betfair Sportsbook/Marathon

Hampshire win. 1 point. 2 various bookmakers

Delray Rawlins. Sussex Top Batsman. 0.25 points. 8 (7/1) Ladbrokes/Coral/SportingBet/Bwin


Tuesday 23rd July


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

6.30 Leicestershire 2.75 (36.4%) v Yorkshire 1.5 (66.7%)

6.30 Surrey 1.91 (52.4%) V Middlesex 1.91 (52.4%)

(11.00 Wednesday. England V Ireland.)

Comments and Selections

Hampshire were probably a few runs short of the desired total on Sunday but had Kent in trouble at 41/4 and behind the rate all the way. Needing over 10 an over with the tail at the crease, it looked to be Hampshire… then 16 off the final over… 12 off the last 3 balls… 2 sixes and the game was Kent’s.

Leicester were stuffed by Birmingham at the weekend, a game that was as good as gone in the first over with Leicester losing 3 wickets, including golden ducks for both openers. Yorkshire also lost, albeit from a winning position, and need to sort their batting order out as Pooran is wasted at 7, but should have Tim Bresnan and Duanne Olivier back to significantly strengthen their bowling today. They are heavily odds on today, but with Leicester losing Ben Rainne, Mohammed Nabi and Cameron Delport, and with them most of last season’s runs, Yorkshire are still not short enough against a side with a tough month ahead of them.

Surrey came across a once in a career innings from Delport (now with Essex) in their opener, but there won’t be many times their bowling attack will struggle as badly. However, they made a valiant attempt in their chase despite a mid-order slump due to the need to score quickly. That’s a big positive in having a lower-middle order capable of scoring runs and doing so at a good rate. Liam Plunkett returns, along with Ollie Pope and out go Rory Burns and Sam Curran.

Eoin Morgan comes in for Paul Stirling for Middlesex. There are a few uncertainties in the batting order for both sides- Middlesex may just shift up one, with Nick Gubbins opening but will AB de Villiers come in at 3 or 4 and for Surrey will Will Jacks open again, where will Ollie Pope bat (Sam Curran came in at 3 with Ben Foakes at 4 against Essex)- so those markets are best left alone at the moment.

England have named a strangely unbalanced squad to face Ireland. The top 4 will be Rory Burns, Jason Roy, Joe Denly and Joe Root. Otherwise, there’s Bairstow as wicket-keeper/batsman and a collection of bowling all-rounders. This will be Roy, Root and Bairstow’s first innings for some time in the longer format, whereas Joe Denly was released b England and returned to the 4-day game in county cricket, warming up for this with 154 for Kent against Hampshire, following 88 against Surrey and 167* against Notts last month. In a shortened batting line-up and as the outsider of the top 5, according to the odds, Denly looks the value call.

Yorkshire win. 1 point. 1.5 various bookmakers

Surrey win. 1 point. 1.91 various bookmakers

Joe Denly Top England Batsman. 0.5 points. 6 Betfair Sportsbook/BetFred/SportingBet/Bwin/BetWay/Spreadex


Sunday 21st July (No games on Monday)


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

2.30 Birmingham 1.62 (61.7%) V Leicestershire 2.5 (40%)

2.30 Hampshire 1.67 (59.9%) V Kent 2.38 (42%)

2.30 Lancashire 1.5 (66.7%) V Durham 3 (33%)


Somerset played badly last night, first in their bowling during the Powerplay after Kent had lost a couple of early wickets and then giving their wickets away in a soft fashion during a middle-order slump. However, Kent’s bowling attack was impressive and once they have their batting line-up restored they will be a very competitive side. That’s still not the case at the moment and while there may be little difference in the quality of the two bowling attacks today, Hampshire do have the stronger of the two batting line-ups by some margin and odds implying they will win 6 out of 10 times still underestimates this gap. (Bookmakers have corrected their odds for Top Batsman today and Zak Crawley is 4/1 rather than 8/1.) Kent have the same squad as last night. Hampshire have James Vince and Liam Dawson back from England’s World Cup squad, Sam Northeast from the Lions and Chris Morris from South-Africa’s World Cup side.

The other two favourites today do have absentees and without key players don’t look to offer value at these prices, neither can they be easily opposed given limited strengths of their opponents today.

Hampshire. 1 point win. 1.67 WillHill/SkyBet/SportingBet/Bwin


Saturday 20th July


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

2.30 Derbyshire 2.62 (38.2%) v Yorkshire 1.62 (61.7%)

7.00 Kent 2.3 (43.5%) v Somerset 1.73 (57.8%)


Kent are without Joe Denly, Sam Billings and Heino Kuhn, which means they are without three of their top four runscorers from 2018 (the trio scored 1091 collectively while the rest of the squad only amassed 758 between them). Somerset are without Lewis Gregory, who has joined up with England since their win over Glamorgan on Thursday. But, with Kent’s weakened batting line-up and their own top four all starting brightly, they should be a shorter price then this to add another win to their campaign.

Kent’s Zak Crawley looks an attacking talent to follow. He’s quickly been called up by England Lions after a century (111 off 173 balls) and two fifties in recent Championship matches. With their other absentees, the 21 year-old opener looks too big a price for tonight.

Somerset 1 point win. 1.73 SkyBet/WillHill

Top Kent Batsman: Zak Crawley. 0.25 points win. 9 SportNation/RedZone/BetHard/Bet365


Friday 19th July


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

2.30 Gloucesterhire 1.73 (57.8%) V Glamorgan 2.2 (45.4%)

5.15 Worcestersire 1.8 (55.6%) V Birmingham 2.3 (43.5%)

6.30 Durham 1.8 (55.6%) V Northants 2.2 (45.4%)

6.30 Hampshire 1.91 (52.4%) V Sussex 2 (50%)

6.30 Leicestershire 2.4 (41.7) V Lancashire 1.67 (59.9%)

6.30 Yorkshire 2 (50%) V Nottinghamshire 1.91 (52.4%)

7.00 Essex 2.2 (45.4%) V Surrey 1.8 (55.6%)


A tricky set of fixtures which was always likely to be the case for most team’s first T20 of the season and exacerbated by a number of key players missing due to injury, being rested or visa issues which has narrowed the gap between the favourites and underdogs in a number of cases.

Yorkshire look strong in all departments, Nicholas Pooran adds excitement to their batting, Duanne Olivier adds genuine pace to their attack and Dominic Bess, on loan from Somerset, can contribute with both bat and ball and adds a threatening spin option in Adil Rashid’s absence. This is on top of an experienced squad and they should be favourites here.

Notts have been struggling lately- yet to win in the Championship, having lost 7 times- and they allowed Worcester to score too many late in their innings last night, then only Alex Hales made an impact with the bat as they never looked like reaching their target, falling 29 short on 133/9.

Despite the absence of Liam Plunkett and Jason Roy tonight, Surrey still have a squad full of internationals and are able to call on the Curran brothers, Adam Finch, Ben Foakes, Rory Burns and Imran Tahir. AB de Villiers tore the Essex attack to pieces last night and they needed Ryan ten Doeschate’s 74 to post a respectable but still insufficient total.

Yorkshire. 1 point. 2 UniBet/Spredex (fixed odds)/SportingBet/Bwin

Surrey. 1 point. 1.8 SkyBet, Spreadex (fixed odds), 1.78 Expekt, Betclic


Thursday 18th July


Time, Home Team, Best Decimal Odds (chance of winning these odds imply), Away Team, Best Odds.

18:15 Middlesex 1.73 (57.8%) V Essex 2.2 (45.45%)

18:30 Glamorgan 2.375 (42.1%) V Somerset 1.61 (62.1%)

19:00 Nottingamshire 1.73 (57.8%) V Worcestershire 2.375 (42.1%)

(As always we want to be backing the team with a better chance of winning than the odds imply.)


Lewis Gregory is available for Somerset before joining the England squad next week and both overseas players, Babar Azam and Jerome Taylor should also feature. With no major doubts, Somerset should be too strong for Glamorgan.

Somerset win. 1 point. 1.61 Bet365/Coral/Ladbrokes/RedZone


For regular updates on individual matches, please go here

Tournament Preview

What’s that? The drama of the ICC Cricket World Cup, consisting of 48 games over 7 weeks, a twice-tied final, champions crowned largely due to a ricochet off a throw at the stumps, an umpiring error and the application of a peculiarly obscure rule that had never been used before and few people knew existed, wasn’t enough for you?

Okay then, how about a domestic Twenty20 tournament with 18 teams, 133 matches over two months and a finals day with both semi-finals and the final played in the space of ten hours?

The Vitality Blast returns on Thursday evening. The easiest way to think about this is that it’s the 18 first-class counties split into two groups of nine, divided geographically into South and North, who play each other twice, home and away. The top four in each group then go into the knockout quarter-finals.

Of course, this is cricket so it can’t be that straight-forward. Instead, there are 17 counties plus Warwickshire calling themselves Birmingham, while Northamptonshire find themselves in the North group and having to travel to Durham, Lancashire and Yorkshire rather than walking down the road to take on southern rivals. Also, each team plays 14 group games, rather than 16, meaning they play 6 teams twice and 2 teams once.

Should the final be tied due to the ball being caught by a drone, then the match will be resolved by the two captains attempting to guess the number of sweets in a large jar.

Meanwhile, next week Australia will play a 12 against 12 match amongst themselves that will be used to finalise their squad for the Ashes, while England take on Ireland in a one-off Test that will also go a long way towards deciding the opening team and squad for The Ashes that begins the following week. Both of these matches will involve a number of players who would otherwise be involved in the Vitality Blast and lead to some returning and others not.

The first six overs of an innings only allow two fielders outside the 30 yard circle, whereas five are permitted for the remainder of each innings. This is going to make for early fireworks and is going to be a key consideration when looking at top scorers markets.

Here are the leading contenders:

South Group

Somerset topped the South Group last year and have Babar Azam as an overseas player to bolster their top order. His effortless stroke play coupled with Taunton’s small ground and true surface should see him amongst this year’s top run makers. Despite losing captain Lewis Gregory to England next week, that is only likely to be temporary and with a collection of seasoned performers behind him, he should be able to lead Somerset into the knockout stages once more.

With England suddenly having an abundance of pace bowlers in contention for a place against Australia- it could be a contest between Stuart Broad, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes to join James Anderson, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes- Surrey could benefit by having Liam Plunkett, Tom Curran, Sam Curran (after next week) and Jade Bernbach available, with South African Imran Tahir’s leg-spin completing a very strong attack.

Adam Finch, second top scorer in the competition in 2018, hasn’t made the final 25 for Australia’s consideration which gives another boost, this time to Surrey’s batting, but England’s love of playing one-day players in Test cricket looks likely to deny then of Jason Roy’s runs.

Jofra Archer and Alex Carey’s performances in the World Cup may deprive Sussex of two key players. However, they do have last season’s top scorer, Laurie Evans, and Rashid Khan’s spin variations will surely have more success against country players than he’s had in the last two months against internationals. Phil Salt is one to watch with the 22 year-old so far having a career strike-rate above 150 per 100 balls.

Middlesex will have their moments due to a batting line-up including AB de Villliers, whose on/off retirements are currently off, Eoin Morgan and Dawid Malan who did feature for England earlier in the year. However, a moderate bowling attack may mean few totals are safe.

Sam Billings’ shoulder injury and Joe Denly’s England involvement have dented Kent’s hopes, although Mohammad Nabi looks like a positive signing and will be one of the competition’s most economical bowlers.

North Group

Notts have made the semi-finals in two of the last three years and with Alex Hales, Ben Duckett, Joe Clarke, Samit Patel and Harry Gurney, they have a collection of unfulfilled English talent in their ranks and a solid enough squad to be strong contenders to go deep into the tournament.

Defending champions Worcestershire have their dangers at the top of the order with Martin Guptill, Callum Ferguson and Riki Wessels, plus last season’s leading wicket-taker Pat Brown and Wayne Parnell leading the attack. However, they’ve lost Joe Clarke and Moeen Ali’s availability is likely to be limited.

Yorkshire look strong in all departments. Nicholas Pooran is an exciting signing, albeit probably not for the duration of the Blast, Adam Lyth, Garry Ballance, Tim Bresnan, David Willey and others, quite possibly including Adil Rashid if overlooked by England, mean there’s no shortage of experienced game-changers throughout their squad.

Lancashire have two dangerous Aussie’s in Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner alongside highly-rated England Lions Liam Livingstone and Saqib Mahmood. The question will be whether they get enough support.



This is an even more forgiving tournament than the World Cup- both England and New Zealand were able to reach the final after losing three times- and the four sides selected should be able to finish in the top 4 of 9 in their groups. At the higher prices, Somerset and Yorkshire look to offer the best value while the strengths of Surrey and Notts make them worth keeping on side.

Somerset. 1 point. 12/1 various bookmakers

Yorkshire. 1 point. 12/1 various

Surrey. 0.5 points. 8/1 various

Nottinghamshire. 0.5 points. 7/1 various

Top Batsman

The obvious quartet are Babar Azam, Adam Finch, Alex Hales and Martin Guptill but these are also the four with the shortest odds.

I want to be looking for a player at the top of the order- otherwise may be denied opportunities if only getting to the crease later in an innings or in small chases.

Of others at more appealing odds, Liam Livingstone in next in the market and a contender but will be coming back from injury. D’Arcy Short, the 2017/18 Big Bash top scorer, will get plenty of opportunities for Durham and has not made Australia’s 25 for next week. Varun Chopra had a good 2018, scoring 503 and finishing 6th. He’s back at Essex again and looks generously priced. Phil Salt has already been mentioned and is likely to progress. Gloucester captain Michael Klinger completes the list after 431 runs last year, over 5,000 career T20 runs at an average of 34 and a strike-rate of 124.

D’Arcy Short. 0.25 points each-way. 20/1 BetVictor, 16/1 Boyles and BetWay

Varun Chopra. 0.25 points each-way. 40/1 BetVictor, 33/1 Boyles and SkyBet

Philip Salt. 0.25 points each-way. 25/1 SkyBet/Boyles/BetWay

Michael Klinger. 0.25 points each-way. 66/1 BetVictor, 40/1 Boyles and SkyBet

Good Luck!

Ashes Preview (Part One)

Featuring five 5-day Test matches, The Ashes begins at 11 o’clock on Thursday at Edgbaston.

This series will be Trevor Bayliss’s last in charge of England. He’s been their head coach for just over four years and, despite obvious progress with their one-day and T20 sides, it’s been a stuttering period for the Test team with little tangible progress.

The scorecard for the first Test in Bayliss’s command, in the summer of 2015, can be found here and shows a surprising similarity to the probable team for Thursday’s opener at Edgbaston.

The middle-order of Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali remain, while James Anderson and Stuart Broad continue to be the opening bowling combination and Mark Wood is only absent now due to injury.

However, it’s the top of the list that has continued to be the seemingly unsolvable conundrum England have faced during Bayliss’s tenure.

‘We’ve had a lot of good players averaging 35 to 40 at county level. If you want someone to average 40 to 50 in Test cricket, he’s got to average 50 to 60 at the level below,’ Bayliss commented last season.

He has a point, but reading observations such as ‘the cupboard is bare’ can hardly be seen as a vote of confidence for any incoming player.

Furthermore, whereas a previous England coach Duncan Fletcher was able to identify and unlock the potential of Marcus Trecothick and Michael Vaughan who went on to have higher Test averages than they had in the county game, Bayliss has been unable to unearth or develop with similar success.

Of 47 players to make their Test debut for England this decade, only three – Joe Root, Haseeb Hameed and Ben Foakes – have averages above 40 for England. Meanwhile, the likes of Adam Lyth (average of 20), Alex Hales (27), Ben Duckett (15), Keaton Jennings (25), Mark Stoneman (27), James Vince (24), Dawid Malan (27), Ollie Pope (18) and Tom Westley (24) have all been tried and failed.

As a consequence, England prepare to enter this battle with a likely top three – Rory Burns, Jason Roy and Joe Denly – with just 529 Test runs between them. It’s a weakness that Australia will look to expose.

Joe Root’s preference for batting at 4 is based on wanting to recover from captaining his side on the field and to be protected from the new ball. However, due to the failures of the top three, he’s too often found himself in quickly and sooner than desired.

He remains England’s best batsman and one of the finest in the world. He had a spell of seeming to want to mimick the more eye-catching players and play a greater range of shots especially as an innings developed, but has settled back into his old style and looks all the better for it.

However, with England’s upper-order frailties and the Dukes ball that offers plenty of movement for bowlers, especially when new – while lamenting the failure of England’s openers last year, it’s easy to overlook that Pakistan and India’s openers also struggled – there may be an opportunity for a member of the middle-order to outscore Root during the series.

Ben Stokes looks to have come of age as an international cricketer. His role in winning the one-day World Cup was far from limited to his performance in the final. His unbeaten 82 against Sri Lanka and 89 against Australia were both in unsuccessful chases but it was only due to a lack of support at the other end that he failed to get England home.

He demonstrated that he’s developed an ability to bat to the situation and his frequent well placed dabs for two – when most others would have played the ball firmer and been restricted to singles or fell seeking boundaries – were the signs of a sharp cricketing brain backed up by the ability to execute such plans.

Since the much publicised incident outside a Bristol nightclub and court case that followed, Stokes has underperformed in Test cricket with a highest score of just 79 in 26 innings. However, considering the improvement shown in his game in limited overs, it would be no surprise to see that now mirrored in the longer format and it could be that batting at number 6 is the ideal place to give him the opportunity to be England’s top scorer in the series. At the prices, he certainly looks to be the value call with Root as low as around 2/1.


England’s Top Runscorer- Ben Stokes bet- now 8.5 Betway, 8 Bet365/Marathon

Note: this is for the series and not the First Test.

While it’s improbable that England’s top order will be the same throughout the series due to lack of runs and form, it’s also improbable that England’s bowling attack will be the same for each test due to their depth, range of options and fitness issues.

James Anderson is, of course, a shoo-in. He may turn 37 this week but he gets better with age and his average with the ball for Lancashire this season is just 9 runs per wicket. However, he has injury niggles that ruled him out of the test against Ireland and it’s far from guaranteed that he’ll be able to play every test.

Ben Stokes will be the seam bowling all-rounder but regardless of who else is in the attack, he’ll very much be the fourth seamer. Moeen Ali starts the series as England’s spinner but, like Stokes, is likely to play mainly a support role with the ball.

Jofra Archer and Mark Wood are likely to play some part, but the pair getting the first opportunities to complete the bowling attack looks to be Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes. Both will be playing for their place and should either underachieve then they will probably make way for the second Test.

With such uncertainty about who will play and then how much they will play, the Top Bowler market is worth keeping an eye on, but not worth getting involved with at this stage.

Ashes Preview (Part Two)

Before getting back to the Ashes, a quick reminder that I’m posting daily tips on the ‘Vitality Blast’ which is the domestic Twenty20. The page you need is here, most days the update is made by lunchtime and there’s an overview of the tournament at the bottom of the page.

If you’re wondering why they may be worth following or are likely to make a profit, then the answer is probably best explained by way of an example…

Kent were playing Somerset in their first match. Three of Kent’s main batsmen were not available. I knew that purely through some simple research. However, the bookies hadn’t bothered to check and had the three missing players as the three shortest prices in the Top Batsman market.

Unlike in horse racing, where a reduction to a price would be made in the event of non-runners, Top Batsman/Bowler markets work like goalscorer markets in football, whereby you get your money back if your selection doesn’t play, but there isn’t a reduction in the price if other players don’t feature.

Because the bookmakers hadn’t taken the trouble to consider who was actually going to be playing, it left a lot of value up for grabs with other players overpriced. The selection that day didn’t win, but because it passed the Litmus test of a bet (described here) it was the sort of bet that over time will come good because of the advantage it holds over the bookies’ prices.

This is a fast-paced tournament and it’s clear the bookmakers don’t follow it closely enough so that when team changes are announced or made, they don’t react. By following it more closely, we can gain an advantage.

Now, back to the higher profile cricket ahead…

William Hill has an offer for The Ashes that may be of interest – back any player to be the series top scorer for £20 (or £10e/w) and get a £10 free bet every time they score a century.

With this offer, the value is to pick the player most likely to score centuries (as opposed to what should be the normal practice of making a selection based on it having a higher chance of winning than the odds suggest).

Steve Smith is the most likely centurian. His record just gets better and better – remember that he was selected for his Test debut as a leg-spinner, batting at 8 and 9? – and since 2014 he has compiled 21 Test centuries at a rate of over 1 per 4 innings…

He also has a far higher conversion rate of turning 50s into 100s than the likes of David Warner or Joe Root and scored two centuries in the 2015 Ashes, in England, on his way to being the top scorer in the series with 508 runs.

Of course, there’s the possible outcome that he fails this time around but at odds of 4/1 this looks a very fair bet considering the offer attached. (I wouldn’t be backing this without the offer.)

Smith and Warner will be the key wickets at the top of Australia’s batting. Support should come from Usman Khawaja who has taken his time to find his feet in international cricket but is increasingly looking worthy of a place and has plenty of experience in the conditions from playing county cricket.

The familiar quartet of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon make an excellent and well-balanced bowling attack. James Pattinson has been badly troubled by injuries over a number of years but very much looks the part and will be pushing hard for a place and offers a strong alternative should there be a need for rotation.

But, there is a weakness and it’s to be found in their middle-order and below. To highlight this, their captain, Tim Payne, normally bats at 7 and is a 34 year-old without a Test century. If England can prise out Warner and Smith cheaply then there could be occasions of going through this Australian side.

In summary, both sides are strong in the bowling departments but have concerns about their batting – England at the top, Australia in the middle. While England were being bowled out before lunch by Ireland, Australia were playing a trial match amongst themselves that resulted in ‘team’ scores of 105, 120, 170 and 156/5. This could very well be a series dominated by the bowlers.

In the last five years, in 36 Tests in England, there have only been 3 draws. Considering the teams involved, it looks likely there will be another set of results in all of the 5 games. With England’s batting problems and Australia’s strength with the ball, this could be Australia’s chance to win the series but it’s likely to be close, with collapses a recurring feature from both teams.


Series Correct Score

4-1 to Australia. 0.4 points. 17 BetVictor/WilliamHill, 15 Ladbrokes/Coral/BetFred

3-2 to Australia. 0.4 points. 10 BetVictor/WilliamHill/BetWay

3-2 to England. 0.2 points. 8 Betfair Sportsbook/PaddyPower/BetFred

If this does go Australia’s way and is dominated by bowlers, then it’s logical that the player of the series will be an Australian bowler and Mitchell Starc, as Australia’s main strike bowler whose pace and movement is going to be more than a handful, looks worth a small stake.


Player of the series: Mitchell Starc. 0.25 points. 13 Ladbrokes/Coral/BetFred



Category: Betting Advice

Comments (3)

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  1. Andy Conniff says:

    Probably not what you had in mind for England’s Top Batsman v Ireland!!!

  2. Miles Tredwell says:

    Yeah, they should probably rename the market ‘England’s least worst batsman.’ A bit lucky but I’ll take it!

    Did think England going in with only four batsmen (and 3 of those far from established) plus Bairstow and then only bowling all-rounders was a bit of a cocky selection.

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