T20 Blast Finals Day Betting: Sussex smarts might prove crucial
Ed Hawkins previews Finals Day from Edgbaston on Saturday and expects two close matches before the showpiece...
"Lancashire couldn’t believe their luck when they turned up in Canterbury for the quarter-final against Kent and saw the pitch was a raging turner"
Will it spin for the Red Rose?
Worcestershire v Lancashire
Live on Sky Sports
This is Worcestershire's first appearance in a Finals Day. Only Derbyshire remain as the one county who have never been invited to the party.
They arrive with a reputation that is ill-deserving of that record. They were the most powerful team in qualifying with bat and ball. And they swatted away Gloucestershire, a doughty opponent, in the quarter-finals.
But there is a dark cloud. They have lost Callum Ferguson, the talisman, to South Australia. His 390 runs make him their top runscorer. More important in a potential two-game series is an absent strike rate of 141.
The pace attack is their true strength. Pat Brown is the top wicket-taker in the competition and Dillon Pennington a serious prospect. Moeen Ali, in the form of his life, could well fill the void left by Ferguson.
Lancashire couldn't believe their luck when they turned up in Canterbury for the quarter-final against Kent and saw the pitch was a raging turner. Their spinners, miserly and menacing all season, had the game won by the break.
Matt Parkinson, a leggie, has 23 wickets, and Zahir Khan, a chinaman, an economy rate of 7.2. Will the Edgbaston wicket help?
It did spin for their terrible twins in their visit to Edgbaston but they suffered a hammering after being bowled out for 102. In that match five of 13 wickets to fall went to spinners. In all matches at Edgbaston this summer, 27.7 per cent have fallen to spinners.
This suggests that it is not an ideal surface for them. There is more evidence in the thrashings meted out to class spinners like Imran Tahir and Ish Sodhi on their visits term. Tahir and Sodhi were wicketless, conceding 13 and 11 an over respectively.
Jos Buttler returns to the Lancashire team and in a format where one player can upset the formbook it is a major fillip to call on a player of his ability at the business end.
Still, it debateable as to whether Worcestershire should be as big. They are available at [2.16] with Lancashire [1.83].
On the outright Worcestershire still hold appeal. They are the outsiders at [4.4]. Lancashire are the favourites at [3.7]. Sussex are [3.8] and Somerset [3.9].
Brains versus brawn in close contest
Sussex v Somerset
Live on Sky Sports
Sussex were the pre-tournament favourites for the title and, after a late surge to qualify, they booked their Finals Day spot with an easy success over a Durham side shorn of their best player in Imran Tahir.
Sussex, of course, notched that success without their own MVP. Rashid Khan was on Afghanistan duty. He is missing again, preparing for the Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
Can they cope without him? Well, their bowling group is solid. Chris Jordan, Danny Briggs and Jofra Archer are a triumvirate most teams would kill for. Tymal Mills is another when he gets his radar right.
Their batting is strong at the top of the order but they might like a bit more from the lower-order. Jordan and Briggs have terrible strike rates and David Wiese has also disappointed with his hitting. If they're in a tight chase with wickets down they might not get up. One for the in-runners there.
We have our suspicion that Somerset are the archetypal flat-track bullies. Nothing wrong with that on last year's form. Nottinghamshire won the thing by being all brawn and little brains.
Somerset can bat. There is no doubt about that. But their bowling leaves a lot to be desired. Eight times their bowlers have gone for 170 or more. They are unequivocally a chasing team, which was probably why Lewis Gregory opted to bat second against Kent in their last group match despite a whopping bias against them.
Indeed, three of their four attempts at defending ended in defeat. Subsequent efforts at batting first have been nerve-shredding. Nottinghamshire were in the hunt chasing 209 for example in the quarter-final.
With the bat they are reliant on Corey Anderson and Gregory. Gregory has an insane strike rate of 216. Unlike Sussex, we would expect them to get home if a chase got tight.
The match odds can barely split the pair. Sussex are [1.94] with Somerset [2.02]. We'd have Sussex slightly shorter than that.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l