This Friday night’s T20 Blast fixture list is punctuated by the potential return of Kevin Pietersen to country cricket.
Pietersen is back from the IPL, where he captained Delhi Daredevils, and is set to represent Surrey in their game against Essex at The Oval - his home for the remainder of the summer.
Last week was pencilled in as the return date for the exiled England star, but a finger injury has kept Pietersen away from an English wicket for even longer.
The explosive batsman will join former England teammates, Jade Dernbach and Chris Tremlett, in the squad, looking to continue the side’s strong start to the tournament.
Surrey and Essex have identical records from their three games, but the latter are lower in the table due to their net run rate.
Fresh from his 133-run partnership with Jos Buttler against Sri Lanka at Lord’s, Ravi Bopara could bring some added firepower to the Essex batting order.
The highly anticipated Roses match at Old Trafford would be an ideal setting for the all-rounder Andrew Flintoff to return, but he misses out for Lancashire. Yorkshire, meanwhile, will look to the international experience of Jonny Bairstow and Aaron Finch to take a scalp for the White Rose County.
The hosts will start the game top of the North Group, and can extend their deficit over second-placed Northamptonshire – who aren’t in action this Friday.
Kent – who have only played two games in the competition so far – have a double-header over two nights. On Thursday they travel to Hampshire, before a home tie with Middlesex.
The game at the Ageas Bowl will be a table-topping clash, as the Spitfires aim to maintain a 100 percent record, and usurp James Vince’s team at the top of the South Group.
Staying south, and Sussex will be playing against Gloucestershire at Hove on Friday. The fact that Matt Prior and co have played a game more than most of their group will increase the necessity of winning.
Ed Joyce and Yasir Arafat will be expected to lead the side with bat and ball respectively, whilst Luke Wright will be tasked with mastering both disciplines once again.
The standings are still very close after so few games, however, there is scope for a few counties to pull away in their respective divisions, and edge closer to the knockout stages.
This week’s Natwest T20 Blast fixtures:
Thursday June 5
Hampshire vs Kent
Friday June 6
Leicestershire vs Worcestershire
Somerset vs Glamorgan
Lancashire vs Yorkshire
Surrey vs Essex
Warwickshire vs Durham
Derbyshire vs Nottinghamshire
Kent vs Middlesex
Sussex vs Gloucestershire