A Golden Opportunity, Vitality Blast Quarter-Final Weekend

After the excitement, tension and drama of the last round of Championship this weekend’s Blast quarter-finals will have some way to go to match what we’ve just seen.

The weather God’s (who I suspect might be red ball fans on the quiet) don’t seem to be smiling on the last 8 either but for a large number of the players these games represent an opportunity to reach finals day which will be the biggest day of their career.

Because of the format each of the quarter-finals pit north v south, teams who haven’t faced each other in this format this season, which adds intrigue.

With the first game in the books it is 1-0 to the north with Lancashire winning away at Kent on a pitch which, yet again for Canterbury, was a travesty for a knockout game in this format. I actually feel sorry for the Kent players having to play on that every week.

Durham face Sussex in the second game on Friday evening at The Riverside. The form from the groups would place Durham as firm favourites especially at home but I’ve got a feeling that Sussex might pull off a surprise.

The delicious irony of this weekend’s games is that the two teams without floodlights are hosting games. Beyond the fact that this is a glorious one in the eye for the franchises driven vision of the ECB. Worcestershire should be too strong for their next-door neighbours especially with the confidence from the trashing they handed out to Yorkshire at Scarborough.

Which brings us, appropriately, as this is a diary of Somerset’s run-in, to the last quarter-final as the winners of the south group host last year’s champions. This is definitely the toe of the weekend, two of the top three in division one, a repeat of last year’s quarter final at Trent Bridge.

Somerset have made Taunton a fortress for the group stage (Kent excepted) and home advantage should count for something in this case. Notts have been inconsistent throughout the season, especially in T20 but the worry is that if the very good Notts turn up Somerset will face a stiff test.

But this Somerset side has demonstrated resilience and a collective will to win that should be the difference.

So finals day will be three first division sides and one second. Two from the north and two from the south. Finals day has a reputation for not going to form but no one will want to face Somerset at Edgbaston