Vitality Blast Finals Day: Preview
Four teams. Three matches. One day.
The highlight fixture of the domestic schedule is heading home to Edgbaston as the 2019 edition of the Vitality Blast comes to an exciting climax.
With a potential 120 overs in the day, played amongst the best atmosphere in domestic cricket, it’s anyone’s title.
The opening fixture sees last year’s winners Worcestershire Rapids face 2017 champions Notts Outlaws, whilst first-timers Derbyshire Falcons will take on 2006 and four-time losing semi-finalists Essex Eagles.
The winners of the fixture will then battle it out under the Edgbaston lights and in front of a raucous Hollies Stand, as the losers go home, frustrated having navigated their way through 16 matches in just four weeks.
It’s incredibly ruthless, but all four teams will fancy their chances.
Brian Halford takes a look at the sides looking to put their name in the history books.
North Group record: Finished 3rd (played 14, won 7, lost 5, no result 2) then beat Gloucestershire by seven wickets in the quarter final.
Derbyshire reached their first Finals Day thanks to a well-balanced bowling attack and a top order that skilfully closed out a number of awkward targets. The Falcons will be looking to emulate the Rapids last year and lift the trophy for the first time. Not to be under-estimated.
Key man: Wayne Madsen – a class act as both bloke and batsman, Madsen averages 49.67, with four half-centuries, in this year’s Blast. Able to play strokes or hit a long ball, he is the man opposing teams most want to see the back of early.
Captain Billy Godleman said: “We’ve chased down a few totals this season where it may have looked easy on a scorecard, but we’ve shown some nous and experience. Hopefully that can stand us in good stead at Finals Day. There’s no reason why we can’t win a couple more games having won four in the past four.”
South Group record: Finished 4th (played 14, won 5, lost 4, tied 1, no result 4) then beat Lancashire Lightning by six wickets in the quarter final.
Essex, always dangerous in white-ball cricket, have real momentum behind them. They sneaked into the quarter-finals only after the final group game but then defeated North Group winners Lancashire in the quarter-finals. They will arrive at Finals Day with the force very much with them.
Key man: Cameron Delport – a big hitter with top-level T20 experience from around the world from stints in the IPL, Big Bash and Pakistan Super League in which he holds the record for quickest century (with Islamabad United). He has also brought that form to the Eagles for whom he smashed a 38-ball century against Surrey at Chelmsford – the fastest T20 ton for the Eagles.
Head coach Anthony McGrath said: “Everyone is looking forward to Finals Day. When you look at the fixtures at the start of the season, this is where you want to be at this stage of the campaign, still in with a chance.”
North Group record: Finished 2nd (played 14, won 6, lost 4, no result 4) then beatMiddlesex by ten wickets in the quarter final.
The Outlaws’ power-packed batting line-up often takes the headlines, as in the quarter-final eclipse of Middlesex, but they also boast a high-class bowling attack led by Harry Gurney who took 20 wickets at just 18.45 runs apiece in the group campaign.
Key man: Alex Hales: A true game-changer with the bat, Hales smashed a 47-ball unbeaten 83 against Middlesex in the semi-final. He then jetted straight off for duty in the Caribbean Premier League but will be back with The Outlaws for Finals Day.
Captain Dan Christian said: “In the quarter-final we played pretty close to the perfect game. We’ve been looking for that all tournament and if you pulled apart every ball, you’d hardly be able to find many faults with our game.”
North Group record: Finished 4th (played 14, won 6, lost 5, no result 3) then beat Sussex Sharks by eight wickets in the quarter final.
The Rapids’ qualification from a rainswept North Group was sealed in appropriately soggy fashion by a washout at home to Notts Outlaws. After demolishing Sussex Sharks, in a repeat of last year’s final, in the quart-finals, they are aiming to become the first team ever to retain the Blast trophy.
Key man: Moeen Ali: A huge component of the Rapids’ plans with both bat and ball, Birmingham-born Moeen loves playing at Edgbaston. On his day he is as destructive as any batsman in the country, as shown in the quarter-final with an unbeaten 121 off 60 balls against Sussex.
Captain Moeen Ali said: “It was good to play as well as we did against a top side in the quarter-final. We were missing a number of players but have match-winners in our team, even with some missing. We have built up some momentum last year and this year now we are back in the Finals Day which will be a fantastic day.”
Tickets for Vitality Blast Finals Day are SOLD OUT for a fifth year in a row and earlier than ever in 2019, as demand continues to rise.
No tickets will be available to buy on the day.
Hospitality is still available however with limited spaces available. Click here to find out more.
If you’ve already secured your ticket then we advise to read our Specatator Guide.
Click here to help you enjoy a fun-filled day at Edgbaston.