With the latest round of Natwest T20 Blast fixtures taking place, several county stars are already cementing themselves as the key men of the competition so far.
For reigning champions Northants, David Willey has once again been instrumental in the defence of their title after proving himself their best T20 batsman last season. Willey hit a phenomenal 95 off just 45 balls in the Steelbacks’ two-wicket victory over Leicestershire in a performance that may have even aroused the interest of England selectors. He leads the way in the tournament with nine sixes already. Unfortunately he was unable to add to that on Thursday evening, as the game against Derbyshire was washed out, becoming the latest of several fixtures this week to fall victim to the weather.
However, Marcus North does not sit far behind, with seven sixes for Derbyshire since re-signing for the county in May. A knock of 90 off 47 not only rivalled Willey’s innings, but also went down as a career-best and the fourth-highest individual innings by a Derbyshire batsman. North’s efforts have ultimately not been enough, though, as the Falcons continue to struggle in T20 cricket.
In fact, that knock against Leicestershire was outdone on the day by New Zealand international Scott Styris, who recently joined Leicestershire. Styris hit an unbeaten 63 off 31 to help the Foxes to victory, though this is not his first experience of the competition, having previously played T20 cricket with Sussex in 2012. Then, he hit the joint-third fastest century in T20 history in the semi-final against Gloucestershire, and he certainly looks to be on course to repeat that kind of form for Leicestershire.
The Foxes can also attribute their success so far to the batting of captain Josh Cobb, who has hit five sixes to date. So far, he has scored 70 and 38 against Northants and Derbyshire respectively, though playing alongside Styris means he has struggled to get much recognition.
Elsewhere, notoriously big-hitter Jason Roy has been starring for Surrey. His 64 ensured victory over Somerset, and he also surpassed a half century with 57 against Sussex, though it was not enough to alter the result as his side went down by two wickets.
Meanwhile, Glamorgan may have signed a future star of the tournament in Darren Sammy. The World Cup winning former West Indies captain has a lot more time on his hands after quitting Test cricket once he lost the captaincy to Denesh Ramdin. That has been to the Welsh county’s gain however, and to the benefit of the T20 Blast more generally.
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