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T20 Blast 2018: South Group preview

The T20 Blast is already underway for some teams with Kent making their first appearance in the competition on Friday at The Oval.

Spitfires will play 14 group matches in July and August in the hope of reaching the quarter-finals and then finals day at Edgbaston in September.

Before their first home match at The County Ground, Beckenham on Friday, July 13, they must get through three away matches.

Get the inside track on the opposition thanks to previews of all nine teams in the South Group from the ECB Reporters Network.

You can also hear a preview of the T20 Blast season in this week's Kent Cricket Podcast:


T20 record: Finals day appearances 2006, 2008, 2010 & 2013 (beaten semi-finalists on each occasion)

Last season: 8th in South Group.

Captain: Ryan ten Doeschate

Overseas players: Adam Zampa (Australia); Neil Wagner (New Zealand, available for first six group games); Peter Siddle (Australia, available for last eight group games and quarter-final, if applicable)

Big-hitter: Varun Chopra. Only Colin Ingram and Riki Wessels hit more Blast sixes than Varun Chopra’s 26 last year – and they had at least one more innings in which to do so.

Key bowler: Adam Zampa. The addition of Adam Zampa for the Blast provides Essex with the ‘mystery spinner’ they have craved. The Australian brings T20 experience from the IPL, Big Bash, Caribbean Premier League and from representing his country 13 times to date. Former Kent player Matt Coles could also be a danger.

Matt Coles, playing for Kent 2017, crossed the county border and joined Essex during the winter.
Matt Coles, playing for Kent 2017, crossed the county border and joined Essex during the winter.

Wild card: Paul Walter. Walter is an awkward customer; awkward to opposition batsmen and bowlers alike. It’s down to his height: at 6ft 7in, he comes out of the floodlights on T20 nights like a fast-paced spectre. The full force of his batting has yet to be felt. But the left-hander has been warming up in the 2nds: he smashed 103 from 50 balls in a T20 game against Glamorgan last month.


T20 Record: Reached finals day twice in 2004 and 2017.

Last Season: Top of the South Group- and qualified for finals day.

Captain: Colin Ingram

Overseas Players: Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja(Australia)

Shaun Marsh playing in a tour match for Australia at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence in 2015. Picture: Ady Kerry.
Shaun Marsh playing in a tour match for Australia at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence in 2015. Picture: Ady Kerry.

Big Hitter: Colin Ingram. Described by Hugh Morris, the club’s Chief Executive, as “the best limited overs batsman in Glamorgan’s history”, Ingram was the PCA Player of the Year in the 2017 T20 Blast Competition, when he struck 59 sixes.

Key Bowler: Michael Hogan. The Glamorgan four- day captain has been the club’s most consistent and successful T20 bowler in recent years. His career average for Glamorgan of 80 wickets at 19.23 is testimony to his accuracy, especially at the end of the innings where his variations limit the batsmen’s progress.

Wild Card: Kiran Carlson. The 20-year-old middle order batsman is only in his second full season with the club but has already shown that he is a destructive player in one day cricket.


T20 record: Finalists 2007

Last season: Bottom of South Group

Captain: Michael Klinger

Overseas Players: Michael Klinger (Aus), Andrew Tye (Aus)

Kent will face Gloucestershire at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence on Sunday, August 5. Picture: Andy Jones
Kent will face Gloucestershire at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence on Sunday, August 5. Picture: Andy Jones

Big hitter: Michael Klinger. The hugely popular Aussie has proved himself one of the most outstanding overseas signings in county cricket during his years of service with Gloucestershire.

Klinger loves targeting the flats at the Ashley Down Road End because of the relatively short boundary when hitting straight and can be counted upon to test the strength of the glass windows.

Key bowler: Andrew Tye misses the opening two South Group fixtures against Somerset and Middlesex because of commitments with Australia.

A member of Australia’s T20 squad since 2016, Tye is renowned for his death bowling and the ability to produce devastating yorkers under pressure.

Wild card: Ryan Higgins drew himself to Gloucestershire’s attention by smashing 68 not out off 28 balls to earn Middlesex a tie against them at Cheltenham in last season’s competition.

Since switching clubs, Higgins has been a success with bat and ball. Now comes the opportunity to produce the fireworks Gloucestershire supporters who watched him at Cheltenham have been anticipating.


T20 record: Seven Finals Day appearances, more than any other county. Winners in 2010 and 2012. Semi-finals on the other five occasions.

Last season: Third in group, lost in semi-final to Notts Outlaws.

Captain: James Vince

James Vince. Picture: Chris Davey
James Vince. Picture: Chris Davey

Overseas Players: Colin Munro (New Zealand, until end of July), Dale Steyn (South Africa, second half, if not selected for South Africa one-day series in Sri Lanka) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan)

Big hitter: James Vince is the real danger man with his incredible ability to form long one-day innings with high strike-rates – typified with two centuries and a strike-rate of over 110 in the One-Day Cup.

Key bowler: Gareth Berg - he has worked hard on his one-day skills over the winter and could cause a few surprises.

Wild card: Mujeeb Ur Rahman. No spinner, who took more than 10 wickets, had a better average at the IPL this year than the 17-year-old – with his 14 scalps taken at 20.64 for the Kings XI Punjab. His ability to bowl off and leg spin is making him one of the most justifiably hyped players in world cricket – with Virat Kohli, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler already all accounted for.


T20 record: 2007 winners. 2008 runners-up.

Last season: 6th in South Group.

Captain: Sam Billings

Overseas Players: Marcus Stoinis (Australia), Carlos Brathwaite (West Indies, opening four matches only), Adam Milne (New Zealand)

Big hitter: Darren Stevens. He has made over 200 Twenty20 appearances around the world winning the Bangladesh Premier League for three successive years with Dhaka Gladiators.

In his 158 short-form starts for Spitfires, Stevens has amassed 3,128 runs at an astonishing strike rate of 141.92, clearing the ropes on 144 occasions.

Kent's T20 Blast squad at the start of the season. Picture: Andy Jones.
Kent's T20 Blast squad at the start of the season. Picture: Andy Jones.

Key bowler: Imran Qayyum. The Ealing-born left-arm spinner, 26, made his short-form debut last term in tandem with James Tredwell against Gloucestershire in Cheltenham and, after out-performing his more illustrious teammate, went on to keep his place for 10 matches taking seven wickets at an economy rate of 8.3.

Wild card: Heino Kuhn. Kent’s close-season Kolpak recruit, was signed to improve Spitfires' white-ball batting and replace the runs of former skipper, Sam Northeast. He has already impressed in the Royal London One-Day Cup finishing as the leading run-scorer and will hope to replicate that in the T20s. His domestic short-form record is impressive with 1,403 runs at a strike rate of 124.15 to his credit. His Titans side have won South Africa’s last three domestic T20 titles.


T20 record: Winners 2008

Last season: 7th in South Group

Captain: Dawid Malan

Overseas Players: Ashton Agar (Aus), Dwayne Bravo (West Indies)

Dwayne Bravo has previously played for Kent. Picture: Barry Goodwin.
Dwayne Bravo has previously played for Kent. Picture: Barry Goodwin.

Big hitter: Paul Stirling. Few batsmen strike the ball with as much raw power as Paul Stirling and the Irishman’s explosive potential at the top of the order will be crucial to Middlesex’s prospects.

Stirling proved in the Royal London Cup that he has added greater discipline to his natural ability and now looks capable of batting deeper into an innings.

Key bowler: Dwayne Bravo. The former West Indies star brings a wealth of white-ball experience and his ability to mix it up with the ball will sprinkle Middlesex’s attack with a little more variety.

Wild card: Nathan Sowter. Leg-spinners can be worth their weight in gold in this format and, in the shape of Nathan Sowter, Middlesex possess one who might make a real difference.

The Australian-born leggie burst onto scene with figures of 2-2 on his T20 debut three years ago and has since established himself as a key wicket-taking bowler.


T20 record: Winners 2005

Last season: 4th in South Group. Lost to Notts Outlaws at Trent Bridge in quarter-finals

Captain: Lewis Gregory

Overseas Player: Corey Anderson (NZ)

Big hitter: Corey Anderson’s contribution to Somerset’s 2017 T20 campaign was restricted to four matches by a back problem.

But the opening South Group game against Surrey at The Oval showed the New Zealander’s capabilities as he blasted 81 off 45 balls, despite having been injured bowling the opening over of the match.

Key bowler: Max Waller. The leg-spiner has developed into a T20 specialist over the years, targeting batsmen’s pads with googlies delivered with a flat trajectory and maintaining an increasingly impressive economy rate.

Wild card: Tom Banton. After a brilliant start to the summer in the 2nds, 19-year-old Tom Banton did not make the most of his opportunities in the Royal London One-Day Cup, with a top score of 40 in six innings. But that is unlikely to deter Somerset from offering the exciting youngster a top-order position in T20 as he has shown an ability to take apart bowling attacks in white ball cricket.


T20 record: Winners: 2003. Runners-up: 2004 and 2013. Other finals day appearances: 2005, 2006 and 2014

Last season: 2nd in South Group; lost to Birmingham in quarter-final at Kia Oval

Captain: Jade Dernbach

Overseas players: Aaron Finch (Aus), Nic Maddinson (Aus)

Kent will face Surrey at The Oval on Friday. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Kent will face Surrey at The Oval on Friday. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Big hitter: Aaron Finch. The Australian returns to the Kia Oval after hitting 489 runs at 40.75 and with a remarkable strike rate of 166.89 in last year’s competition. Finch bludgeoned 25 sixes in 2017 and recently broke the T20 international record innings smashing 172 from 76 balls against Zimbabwe.

Key bowler: Morne Morkel. The South African has been signed by Surrey to play all formats on an initial two-year Kolpak deal, and the giant 33-year-old South African fast bowler can add a real cutting edge to an attack based on the two Curran brothers, Tom and Sam.

Wild card: Ollie Pope, who turned 20 earlier this year, first caught the eye at senior level when playing in white-ball cricket for Surrey last summer. He has since gone on to impress further many good judges with mature performances in both championship and 50-over matches.


T20 record: Winners 2009, finalists 2007, 2012.

Last season: 5th in South Group

Captain: Luke Wright

Overseas Players: Rashid Khan (Afghanistan), Tom Bruce (New Zealand)

Big hitter: Tom Bruce. New Zealand middle order batsman Bruce has arrived at Hove slightly under the radar to replace the injured Stiaan van Zyl but the man from Central Districts is more than capable of making a big impact. The 26-year-old has played 14 T20 internationals with a strike rate of 128.40 and has a reputation for hitting a long ball.

Key bowler: Rashid Khan. All eyes will be on Rashid Khan, the world’s top-ranked T20 bowler and second in ODIs. His mesmerising variations of leg spin should win Sussex a couple of games on their own.

Wild card: Laurie Evans. He is likely to take over the top-order role Chris Nash performed so successfully for many years.

Evans scored 243 runs in the Royal London One-Day Cup and his ability to dovetail as successfully as Nash did with Luke Wright will be crucial to Sussex’s chances.

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