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Cricket Betting Tips and Fantasy Cricket Match Predictions: Vitality Blast 2020 - Essex Eagles vs Middlesex

Essex Eagles
Essex Eagles
©Cricket World

The opening round match of the Vitality Blast 2020 will be played between Essex Eagles and Middlesex at The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford.

Essex vs Middlesex, South Group

Defending champions Essex Eagles finished at the 4th spot in their Vitality Blast group last year. The team ended the group stage with 5 wins and 4 losses from 14 matches. They won the final against Worcestershire.

They will be up against Middlesex who finished at the 3rd place in their group after the league stage with 7 wins and 6 losses from 14 matches. They lost their quarter-final match against Nottinghamshire.

Cameron Delport was the top scorer for Essex Eagles in the last Blast season with 409 runs from 14 matches at an average of 66.40 and a strike rate of 167. He scored one century and three half-centuries last year with the best of 129.

Simon Harmer picked up 17 wickets for Essex Eagles from 14 matches with best figures of 4/19. He bowled at an average of 20 and an economy of 8.15.

Toby Roland-Jones was their top wicket-taker and picked up 19 wickets from 14 matches with best figures of 5/21. He bowled at an average of 19 and an economy of 8.55.

John Simpson is relishing the extra responsibility of helping to steer a drastically remodelled Middlesex batting line-up through their Vitality Blast campaign.

With skipper Eoin Morgan away on international duty for most of the tournament, Simpson is by far the most experienced T20 batsman in a Seaxes side missing the bulk of its top order from last year’s run to the quarter-finals.

Opening pair Dawid Malan and Paul Stirling have since left the club, while AB de Villiers – one of their overseas stars from last season – will not feature this time.

Wicketkeeper Simpson, 32, said: “If Eoin isn’t playing, I might be the most senior guy in that batting group.

“It does put more responsibility on the heads of people like me, who have played a lot of T20, and more emphasis on my experience to help the younger guys around me.

“I’ve fluctuated in the order, from opening to going in five or six, but I probably played my best at three. That’s somewhere I enjoy coming in, batting against the new ball.

“I see my role as being adaptable, so if Morgs and (coach) Stuart Law want to use me further down in a power-hitting role, I pride myself on being able to do both.”

Simpson believes the near-absence of imports from this year’s Blast should not only open doors for more homegrown batsmen to showcase their white-ball talent, but also give them greater confidence to perform.

“Previously, when the overseas batsman missed a game, it was almost like you were filling in,” the left-hander explained. “It was difficult when you had one of the great modern-day batsmen like AB or (Brendon) McCullum available to come into the team.

“But now the younger guys should get a good crack at it. That gives them some clarity around their roles, a chance to show what they can do on the big stage and it’ll be exciting to see some of the young talent Middlesex are bringing through.

“Martin Andersson’s very talented, he’s got all the shots – and it should create openings for players like Jack Davies and Dan Lincoln as well, but they’re going to have to learn and learn quickly.

“It’ll give these guys valuable experience going into the next Blast tournament and, with the Hundred next year as well, it’s an opportunity to put themselves in the shop window.”

Simpson and his team-mates launch the tournament away to defending champions Essex Eagles on Thursday (2pm) before making their first appearance of the season at Lord’s two days later, when they face Kent Spitfires.

Lord’s will be the venue for every one of Middlesex’s home Blast fixtures – which normally attract a capacity crowd, but are set to take place behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“I guess we’ve become accustomed to the games at Lord’s being sold out and it is quite a strange experience when you can only hear your own voices out in the middle,” Simpson added.

“As a keeper or captain, when you’re trying to move a fielder and you’ve got 20,000-plus people in the stadium, you end up yelling all the time! When we had that taster game at the Oval (in late July), it was great to have the background noise.

“I think guys have got their heads around it now. The sooner we can get back to playing in front of a full house the better, but of course people’s health is the priority.”

Let's have a look at the probable playing XI of both teams: 

Middlesex -  Tom Barber, Stephen Eskinazi,  John Simpson (wk,c), George Scott, Toby Roland-Jones, Tom Helm, Nathan Sowter, Steven Finn, Jack Davies, Dan Lincoln

Essex - Tom Westley, Cameron Delport, Adam Wheater (wk), Daniel Lawrence, Ryan ten Doeschate, Paul Walter, Simon Harmer (c), James Porter, Shane Snater, Samuel Cook 



Cricket Betting Tips and Match Predictions* - PrePlay

Who will win the toss? - Essex

Who will win? – Essex

Top Batsman (Runs Scored) – Stephen Eskinazi (Middlesex), Cameron Delport (Essex)

Top Bowler (Wickets taken) – Toby Roland-Jones (Middlesex), Simon Harmer (Essex)

Most Sixes – John Simpson (Middlesex), Cameron Delport (Essex)

Man of the Match –  Cameron Delport

Team Scores Batting first – Middlesex 180+, Essex 200+

Match Handicap Essex

Live Cricket Streaming Vitality Blast 2020 - bet365's live cricket streaming page which enables you to watch live cricket. (BeGambleAware 18+)  Live Cricket Streaming from bet365 requires a funded account or for customers to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours. Geo-restrictions apply.

*NB these predictions may be changed nearer the start of the match once the final starting teams have been announced and we will be running ‘In–Play’ features, so stay tuned.


© Cricket World 2020