Week four of the T20 Blast delivered everything, and more, with some fantastic batting displays, controversy and a contender for catch of the season. Week five is now upon is and I am sure it too can deliver the same high quality and exciting cricket. Despite the possible distraction of a Test match at Lord's the T20 Blast is bound to continue entertaining supporters up and down the country tonight.
North Group preview
Current North Group leaders Worcestershire take on Derbyshire at Derby and will be confident that they can continue their current winning form. Derbyshire sit rock bottom with no victory from their five games so far. Worcestershire are on a roll after their dramatic victory over Durham last weekend in a reduced overs match. Saeed Ajmal will once again be a huge threat for the visitors as he continues his fantastic early season form.
Elsewhere in the North Group former leaders Lancashire take on Leicestershire at Old Trafford, hoping to bounce back from their defeat to rivals Yorkshire last Friday. Leicestershire are unable to find that winning formula at present as they languish just above Derbyshire at the bottom. It will be interesting to see whether Lancashire opt to give Andrew Flintoff an outing this week as they bid to get back on track.
Yorkshire themselves face a tricky match at Northampton where they will face the defending champions and big-hitting David Willey. Willey is currently the leading six-hitter in the tournament, with 13 maximums so far, and is more than capable of taking the game away from any side on his day. However, after their victory at Old Trafford, and with Aaron Finch on form, Yorkshire will be confident that they can continue their revival as they bid to move up from their current third position.
Trent Bridge sees Nottinghamshire entertain Warwickshire who themselves have had a mixed season in the competition. So far the newly rebranded Birmingham Bears side have won two games, lost one and had one game abandoned from their four games so far. The Bears though have won their last two outings whilst Notts are fresh from a victory over Derbyshire.
South Group preview
Current joint leaders Hampshire face a trip to Taunton against Somerset which will not be easy. Somerset have a very powerful batting line-up that unfortunately hasn't fired so far this year resulting in defeat in three out of four games. However, this surely cannot continue. Hampshire are really excelling at the shorter former of the game and have certainly established a winning formula that is suiting them well and are arguably the favourites to reach Finals Day once again.
Don't be surprised to see Hampshire bat first and then try and defend their total, as they do so successfully more often than not. James Vince will be one Hampshire batsmen to keep an eye out for as he is currently one of the leading run scorers in the competition and Danny Briggs, the joint leading wicket-taker in the competition with 11 scalps so far, is also on form.
Kevin Pietersen will be hopeful that he can find some form as his Surrey outfit take on Sussex at the Kia Oval. The ex-England star will hope to finally put behind him all the recent controversies and you get the feeling that a big innings is just around the corner. Sussex will hope that they are not the side that Pietersen finally discovers his form against.
Cardiff is the setting for the Glamorgan against Kent clash. Kent can boast the joint leading wicket-taker in the competition, Aussie Doug Bollinger taking 11 wickets so far, and the leading run scorer, Rob Key, with 257 runs. However, Kent were defeated in their last outing against a Ravi Bopara inspired Essex on Wednesday and will want to bounce straight back form that. Glamorgan will know this is going to be a hard game but they are on form having won three of their five games so far and currently sitting in third place in the table, just ahead of Kent. Darren Sammy will be key to their hopes.
Essex take on Gloucestershire at Chelmsford and will be buoyed by their defeat of Kent earlier in the week. Ravi Bopara once again showed his class with a 44-ball 81 which moved Essex joint top of the South Group table with Hampshire. As well as Bopara they also have the explosive Jesse Ryder who will look to continue the good impact he has had at the club since arriving. Gloucestershire meanwhile have the in-form Graeme McCarter in their bowling ranks. He has impressed so far this season with 10 T20 wickets to his name. Ian Cockbain will be one player to look out for in Gloucestershire's batting order.
Full T20 Blast fixtures Friday 13th June
Somerset v Hampshire Taunton
Nottinghamshire v Warwickshire Trent Bridge
Glamorgan v Kent Cardiff
Lancashire v Leicestershire Old Trafford
Northamptonshire v Yorkshire Northampton
Surrey v Sussex The Oval
Derbyshire v Worcestershire Derby
Essex v Gloucestershire Chelmsford
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