The 2020 Vitality Blast T20 Full Preview – Can The Essex Eagles Defend Their Title?

Can Simon Harmer inspire Essex to victory again at the 2020 Vitality T20 Blast?
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Simon Harmer of Essex celebrates victory out in the middle with coach André Nel during the Vitality T20 Blast Final match between Worcestershire Rapids and Essex Eagles at Edgbaston on September 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

A Full Preview Of The 2020 Vitality T20 Blast

Perhaps for many, the flagship event of the English cricketing summer. The 2020 Vitality Blast begins in earnest on Thursday with eight matches around the country.

Albeit a competition bereft of its usual influx of overseas stars, it is bound to be its usual showpiece nevertheless. Instead of enjoying the best of the world battle it out for the honour of Glamorgan and Durham, instead, their places will be taken by the best local homegrown talents the counties have to offer.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 08: AB De Villiers of Middlesex celebrates his half century during the Vitality T20 Blast match between Middlesex and Surrey at Lord’s Cricket Ground on August 08, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

T20 Blast 2020 Without Overseas Players: Why Is It A Positive?

Here we preview the competition, the players to look out for and the favourites to take home the crown on finals day on October 3.

The Competition

How will Ollie Pope fare at the 2020 Vitality T20 Blast?
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 29: Ollie Pope of Surrey bats during the Vitality T20 Blast match between Surrey and Essex Eagles at The Kia Oval on August 29, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for Surrey CCC)

Fourteen counties make their first appearances on Thursday, with the remaining four starting their campaigns the following day. Like the Bob Willis Trophy, the 2020 Vitality Blast will be played in three regionalised groups, consisting of six teams per group.

Each county will play the others in their group twice, meaning there will be 10 group-stage matches for each county.

NORTH GROUP: Derbyshire Falcons, Durham Cricket, Lancashire Lightning, Leicestershire Foxes, Notts Outlaws, Yorkshire Vikings.

CENTRAL GROUP: Birmingham Bears, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Steelbacks, Worcestershire Rapids.

SOUTH GROUP: Essex Eagles, Kent Spitfires, Hampshire, Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex Sharks.

The Players To Watch Out For

Matt Parkinson of Lancashire Lightning bowling during the Vitality Blast T20 match between Lancashire and Essex at Emirates Riverside, Chester le Street on Wednesday 4th September 2019. (Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Jordan CoxKent The wicketkeeper-batsman Jordan Cox has made his mark on the curtailed English cricket summer. The 19-year-old and Jack Leaning put on a 423-run partnership in the Bob Willis Trophy earlier this month. Succesful in the short-form for England U19s, Cox is definitely one to watch as the Vitality Blast gets underway.

Also, Read – The Bob Willis Trophy Round 4 Summary.

George Munsey – Hampshire recently confirmed the signing of Scotland international George Munsey. The 27 year old has shone on the international stage, most impressively his 127* against the Netherlands. Hampshire fans and neutrals alike can be excited about the prospect of the big hitting Scotsman in 2020.

Callum Taylor – Glamorgan The youngster made his maiden first-class century last week in the Bob Willis trophy. Despite a relatively poor T20 reocrd until this point, the 23 year olds recent form in the red-ball game will leave fans of the Welsh county optimistic.

Can Parkinson Break Into The England Side Again?

Matt Parkinson – Lanashire The leg-spinner Parkinson looks set to be part of the Lightning squad for the entirety of the Blast campaign after an ankle injury ruled him out of England duty. The 23 year old local lad has since returned to fitness and will look to build on an impressive 18 months. England’s loss could be Lancashire’s gain on this one.

Matthew Fisher – Yorkshire The bowler who burst onto the scene in 2013 at the age of just 15, making his debut agaianst Leicestershire. Things haven’t exactly gone to plan since but the 22 year old still boasts an impressive T20 record and will be looking to use this chance to get his career back on the right track this summer.

The Favourites

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 21: Simon Harmer of Essex appeals unsuccessfully for the wicket of Wayne Parnell of Worcestershire on his hat-trick ball during the Vitality T20 Blast Final match between Worcestershire Rapids and Essex Eagles at Edgbaston on September 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Last seasons winners Essex Eagles will have high hopes of going close once more. Much of their squad remains the same, although they will be without last summers overseas star Mohammad Amir.

Both Roses counties Lancashire and Yorkshire will fancy their chances. A mixture of exciting youth and experience should be enough to see the cross pennines rivals at least reach the latter stages.

Other counties that will fancy their chances are the likes of Nottinghamshire, who are always there or there abouts. Also Somerset boast some big hitters who will be confident of making Taunton a fortress, as they pave their way to what they hope will be an October finals day at Edgbaston.

So, who are your favourites to lift the title this year? There are lots of strong teams in the competition. One would feel that the team with the best English talent could win the tournament, in the absence of overseas stars.

 

 

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