This season’s Vitality Blast concludes on Saturday as Lancashire, Worcestershire, Somerset and Sussex bid for Finals Day glory at Edgbaston.
Lancashire take on Worcestershire in the first semi-final with a scheduled start time of 11am while Somerset and Sussex go head-to-head in the afternoon before the final later on in the day.
Here, Press Association Sport assesses how the sides are shaping up heading into this weekend.
Worcestershire were one of two teams to have never reached a Finals Day since its inception into the domestic calendar in 2003. Now only Derbyshire hold that dubious honour after the Rapids finished top of the North Group and eventually eased past Gloucestershire in the quarter-final. Factor in their 209 for five total against Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston as well as their win over Lancashire and they should be full of confidence. The previously unheralded Patrick Brown has been their star turn, leading the wickets charts as his medium pace has accounted for 27 batsman at 14. England all-rounder Moeen Ali and South Africa’s canny left-arm seamer Wayne Parnell will strengthen their ranks although the absence of Callum Ferguson, who has contributed 390 runs to their cause at 48.75 and a strike-rate of 141.81, is a blow.
Emboldened by five batsmen amassing more than 300 runs and four bowlers taking at least 15 wickets, the 2005 champions topped the South Group in buccaneering fashion. Taunton once again lived up to its reputation as a bowler’s graveyard – at least in the sprint format – as Somerset passed 190 six times, but only once away from home. Corey Anderson, with 466 runs at a strike rate of 171.32, and Lewis Gregory, 321 at a strike rate rate of 216.89, can be counted upon to give their innings some impetus while Jamie Overton may be looking to make the same impact as Birmingham’s Olly Stone did with his rapid pace last year, with the pair both touted for England call-ups. Overton has taken 24 wickets at 20.41 already and although his economy rate of 9.86 is worrying, that could be offset by leg-spinner Max Waller, who is going at just 6.67 per over.
Champions in 2009, the south coast county were the envy of the nation at one point with a bowling line-up consisting of fast bowlers Jofra Archer, Tymal Mills and Chris Jordan as well as spinners Rashid Khan and Danny Briggs. However, the world’s number one ranked T20 bowler Rashid, who has taken 17 wickets at 14.35 with an economy rate of just 6.59 for Sussex, will be absent. A lot of responsibility could therefore fall on the pace trio and, in truth, all three have the ability to turn the tide in Sussex’s favour, Archer in particular having taken 18 scalps at 20.55. Their Achilles heel comes in their batting although Laurie Evans with 554 runs at 79.14 distinguished himself in a South Group campaign where Sussex finished third, before registering an unbeaten 63 in their last-eight win over Durham.