Vitality Blast North Group preview: Lancashire Lightning, Notts Outlaws, Yorkshire Vikings and more | Cricket News

Ahead of the 2024 Vitality Blast, which begins on Thursday, here is a preview of the North Group, with Notts Outlaws among the teams looking to end the streak of Southern-based winners.

Watch games from the Vitality Blast live on Sky Sports this summer, including a double-header on Saturday as Derbyshire Falcons play Leicestershire Foxes and Birmingham Bears meet Notts Outlaws.

The 2023 season was dominated by teams from the South Group, with Somerset beating Essex in the final after Hampshire Hawks and Somerset also reached Finals Day, while Notts Outlaws were the latest team from the North Group to win the T20 Blast when they took the trophy in 2020.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

The best of the action from Edgbaston as Somerset beat Essex by 14 runs to win the Vitality Blast final on Saturday night.

Who are the players to look out for and which cricketers could put themselves in the mix for a Hundred call-up later this summer? We take a closer look at the teams involved in the Northern Group…


  • Captain: Alex Davies
  • Overseas players: Hasan Ali (Pakistan), Aamir Jamal (Pakistan)
  • Finals Day appearances: Four (2003, 2014, 2015, 2017)
  • Titles: One (2014)
  • 2023 finish: Quarter-finals
  • 2023 leading run-scorer: Sam Hain (481)
  • 2023 leading wicket-taker: Dan Mousley (21)

Key winter moves: The Bears have fleshed out their bowling options with the signings of seamers George Garton and Richard Gleeson. Garton has signed a three-year T20 contract while 36-year-old Gleeson has signed just for this year.

The big question: Can the Bears overcome the knockout freeze that has seen them exit the tournament at the quarter-final stage in the past three seasons? In recent years they have played some scintillating T20 cricket during the group stage but choked when the format turned to all-or-nothing.

Wildcard watch: All-rounder Ed Barnard’s form in his first season and a half since arriving from Worcestershire has been hugely impressive, especially with the bat. He has the tools and the talent to radically improve on his forgettable first T20 campaign for the Bears last year.

Final thought: Despite a flurry of success which brought three Finals Day appearances between 2014 and 2017, the Bears’ Blast history has been largely fallow. A decade separated their first two Finals Day appearances and it is now seven years since they last figured in the showpiece day in their own backyard.


  • Captain: Samit Patel
  • Overseas players: Blair Tickner (New Zealand), Daryn Dupavillon (South Africa), Mohammad Amir (Pakistan, last six group games)
  • Finals Day appearances: One (2019)
  • Titles: None
  • 2023 Finish: Fifth (North Group)
  • 2023 Leading run scorer: Wayne Madsen (580)
  • 2023 Leading wicket taker: Zak Chappell (26)

Key winter moves: Patel has won the Blast twice with rivals Notts Outlaws and his experience and quality in white-ball cricket could be key for the Falcons this summer. Amir’s scheduled arrival after the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup brings international pedigree to the team.

The big question: The Falcons missed out on the quarter-finals in the last group game in 2023 and given the recruitment since then, will be confident of mounting a challenge this season. Along with Patel and Amir, head of cricket Mickey Arthur has signed players with one-day honours to their names.

Wildcard watch: Patel, Ross Whiteley and Zak Chappell have tasted success in The Hundred so could be snapped up if they have strong Blast campaigns. Aneurin Donald is capable of batting pyrotechnics while Pat Brown’s variations with the white ball make him another contender.

Final thought: Although he turned 40 in January, Madsen is one of the top exponents of improvisation in T20 cricket. His hockey background allows him to conjure shots all around the wicket and if he has another strong tournament, the Falcons could soar this summer.


  • Captain: Alex Lees
  • Overseas players: David Bedingham (South Africa), Ben Dwarshuis (Australia), Ashton Turner (Australia)
  • Finals Day appearances: Two (2008, 2016)
  • Titles: None
  • 2023 finish: Seventh (North Group)
  • 2023 leading run-scorer: Ollie Robinson (380)
  • 2023 leading wicket-taker: Nathan Sowter (24)

Key winter moves: Durham have strengthened their stocks on the domestic and international front. They have signed experienced white-ball duo Colin Ackermann and Callum Parkinson from Leicestershire and Australian overseas pair Ashton Turner and Ben Dwarshuis, who are Big Bash winners.

The big question: Could Durham be a dark horse? They have underachieved in recent times – just one quarter-final appearance in the past seven years. But they have added some notable know-how in the aforementioned quartet and will have gained confidence from winning Zimbabwe’s domestic title whilst on pre-season tour in March.

Wildcard watch: Six Durham stars are Hundred bound; Brydon Carse, Graham Clark, Callum Parkinson, Matthew Potts, Ollie Robinson and Nathan Sowter. Veteran Dutch all-rounder Colin Ackermann has Hundred experience and contributed 180 runs and seven wickets with his off-spin to that Zimbabwean success. Good Blast form, and he might be Durham’s magnificent seventh.

Final thought: Durham’s squad will include three overseas players, but only two can play. South African Test batter David Bedingham is registered just in case there are any last-minute unavailability dramas. The county are not planning for England Men’s Test captain Ben Stokes to feature over the next month before the Test summer starts, but expect crowds to swell if he does.


  • Captain: Keaton Jennings
  • Overseas players: Tom Bruce (New Zealand), Chris Green (Australia)
  • Finals Day appearances: Nine (2004, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2020, 2022)
  • Titles: One (2015)
  • 2023 finish: Quarter-finals
  • 2023 leading run-scorer: Daryl Mitchell (435)
  • 2023 leading wicket-taker: Luke Wood (18)

Key winter moves: Lancashire have lost Daryl Mitchell’s overseas runs but hope fellow New Zealander Tom Bruce fills the void. Australian all-rounder Chris Green adds valuable experience following a change to Nathan Lyon’s availability. Matt Parkinson, one of only two Lightning bowlers to take 100 T20 wickets, has joined Kent. England T20 quick Richard Gleeson is another departure, replaced by fellow speedster Mitch Stanley.

The big question: Have Lancashire got the experience in their squad to win a second Blast title? Former captain Dane Vilas also departed late last summer, while they may not see much of England quartet Jos Buttler, Tom Hartley, Liam Livingstone and Phil Salt due to World Cup duty.

Wildcard watch: Jos Buttler, Tom Hartley, Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood, Phil Salt, Mitch Stanley, Luke Wells and Luke Wood are already signed up in the Hundred. Watch out for all-rounder Tom Aspinwall, though. He is yet to debut in T20 cricket. But, in bowling fast and batting down the order, he plays his cricket in overdrive.

Final thought: This season’s Roses matches will provide some friendly fire, because Lancashire coach Dale Benkenstein and his opposite number at Yorkshire, Ottis Gibson, are the closest of mates. They are former team-mates at Durham and regularly socialise when their teams play against each other. There won’t be much else friendly about those meetings, though.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Lanky the Giraffe won this year’s Vitality Blast Finals Day Mascot Race, streaking to victory as his competitors tumbled.


  • Captain: Peter Handscomb
  • Overseas players: Wiaan Mulder (South Africa), Peter Handscomb (Australia)
  • Finals Day appearances: Five (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2011)
  • Titles: Three (2004, 2006, 2011)
  • 2023 finish: Ninth (North Group)
  • 2023 leading run-scorer: Rishi Patel (390)
  • 2023 leading wicket-taker: Callum Parkinson (17)

Key winter moves: Nine players from the Foxes’ 2023 campaign have departed, notably former skipper Colin Ackermann and left-arm spinner Parkinson. Liam Trevaskis (ex-Durham) is a like-for-like replacement for the latter. Ben Mike returns from Yorkshire and Ben Cox (ex-Worcestershire) will keep wicket, with on-loan Hampshire duo Scott Currie and Ian Holland added to the squad.

The big question: The Foxes’ familiar slow start was compounded by a woeful finish as they finished rock bottom of the North Group with 12 defeats, many by emphatic margins. They found a winning formula over 50 overs in 2023 – can they reproduce it in the shortest format?

Wildcard watch: A wildcard pick for Trent Rockets after taking 15 wickets in the 2022 Blast campaign, Ben Mike missed out on The Hundred last year following his switch to Yorkshire. Always good for a few late runs too, he’ll be keen to put himself back in the frame.

Final thought: With Ackermann’s departure in particular, it feels like a new era for the Foxes – but one that sees the one-time T20 kings in need of a revival. Just seven home victories in three seasons has left things feeling flat at times on a ground that needs atmosphere and excitement. Australian international Handscomb takes over the captaincy, with a morale-boosting opening-night win against Yorkshire his first objective.


  • Captain: David Willey
  • Overseas players: Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe, first eight games), Ashton Agar (Australia – last four games), Matthew Breetzke (South Africa)
  • Finals Day appearances: 4 (2009, 2013, 2015, 2016)
  • Titles: Two (2013, 2016)
  • 2023 finish: Sixth (North Group)
  • 2023 leading run-scorer: Chris Lynn (364)
  • 2023 leading wicket-taker: Andrew Tye (19)

Key winter moves: Former England all-rounder Ravi Bopara joins the Steelbacks for the Blast, while ex-Derbyshire paceman George Scrimshaw will be hoping to impress the selectors after his ODI debut last summer. South African Matthew Breetzke arrives following blistering form in his country’s domestic T20 tournaments, alongside highly-experienced Zimbabwe T20 captain, all-rounder Sikandar Raza.

The big question: Northamptonshire relied heavily on the firepower of big-hitting Australian Chris Lynn during the past two seasons. With some impressive signings and a more balanced side this year, can the young guns step up to support the more experienced, but older hands?

Wildcard watch: Ricardo Vasconcelos is fresh from two big Championship tons, the second scored at a white-ball rate in a run chase. Holding his own alongside Lynn at the top of the T20 batting order last year, Vasconcelos offers firepower and the ability to bat deep – and an extra wicketkeeping option.

Final thought: Without a County Championship win in seven games, Northamptonshire are looking to relaunch their season with a successful Blast campaign. Skipper David Willey has a wealth of experience around him in Bopara and Sikandar Raza (and Ashton Agar for the final four games) and this squad could mount a serious challenge for the knockout stage.


  • Captain: Joe Clarke
  • Overseas players: Dane Paterson (South Africa), Will Young (New Zealand), Ben Lister (New Zealand, 30 May – 21 June), Fazalhaq Farooqi (Afghanistan, 5-19 July)
  • Finals Day appearances: Six (2006, 2010, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020)|
  • Titles: Two (2017, 2020)
  • 2023 finish: Quarter-finals
  • 2023 leading run-scorer: Joe Clarke (432)
  • 2023 leading wicket-taker: Shaheen Shah Afridi (22)

Key winter moves: Leading 2023 wicket-takers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Jake Ball have gone, as have club legend Samit Patel and off-spinner Matt Carter. New Zealand’s Ben Lister and Afghanistan’s Fazalhaq Farooqi fill the Afridi left-arm quick vacancy, while New Zealand batter Will Young and ex-Worcestershire duo Jack Haynes and Dillon Pennington are more new faces.

The big question: Can Joe Clarke shoulder the burden of captaincy and still deliver big runs? Despite his lack of experience in the role, Clarke takes over the armband following Steven Mullaney’s move into coaching. Yet with Alex Hales missing the later group games, much may rest on Clarke’s batting too.

Joe Clarke top-scored for the Notts Outlaws in the 2023 Vitality Blast

Wildcard watch: After two seasons on the main roster, wicketkeeper Tom Moores kept his Trent Rockets shirt via a wildcard last year after outscoring Alex Hales in the Blast, when only Clarke totalled more than his 371 runs. He will be looking to do the same again with another big showing.

Final thought: After two below-par seasons, Outlaws have refreshed their squad enough to be early favourites. Whether they can justify that remains to be seen, but the addition of batters Young and Haynes can balance Hales’ reduced availability and while bowler Josh Tongue, another winter recruit from Worcestershire, is sidelined by injury, fit-again England quick Olly Stone will feel like a new signing.


  • Captain: Brett D’Oliveira
  • Overseas players: Usama Mir (Pakistan), Nathan Smith (New Zealand).
  • Finals Day appearances: Two (2018, 2019)
  • Titles: One (2018)
  • 2023 finish: Quarter-finals
  • 2023 leading run-scorer: Mitchell Santner (404)
  • 2023 leading wicket-taker: Pat Brown (24)

Key winter moves: Acquiring Usama Mir for a second campaign is crucial to the Rapids’ chances of further success. He was initially signed last summer for just three games but Michael Bracewell’s injury meant he returned to finish top of the batting and bowling averages.

The big question: Can Adam Hose put a challenging start to the season in County Championship cricket behind him and show the white-ball form he demonstrates around the world. He finished as the Rapids’ second-highest run scorer in his first season at New Road. A destroyer of attacks at his best.

Wildcard watch: Nathan Smith will be tasting Blast cricket for the first time and looking to repeat the red ball form he has shown during the last few months for Wellington in the Plunket Shield and in the Championship for Worcestershire. A lionhearted player whose extra pace may be crucial in the powerplay and death overs.

Final thought: Worcestershire made massive strides forward in the Blast last summer after winning just two games in 2022. Their squad looks to have sufficient quality and balance to be able to challenge to again climb out of the group stages if they can overcome having four of their first five games being away from New Road.

Brett D’Oliveira will look to lead Worcestershire Rapids beyond their quarter-final finish in 2023


  • Captain: Shan Masood
  • Overseas players: Donovan Ferreira (South Africa), Shan Masood (Pakistan)
  • Finals Day appearances: Three (2012, 2016, 2022)
  • Titles: None
  • 2023 finish: Eighth (North Group)
  • 2023 leading run-scorer: Dawid Malan (546)
  • 2023 leading wicket-taker: Jordan Thompson (20)

Key winter moves: Yorkshire signed emerging South African international Donovan Ferreira to add power to their middle order. The 25-year-old will also take the wicketkeeping gloves. Left-arm spinner Dan Moriarty has arrived from Surrey, while Dawid Malan converted his contract at Headingley into a white-ball-only deal.

The big question: Are Yorkshire going to have the bowling depth to make an impression? Seamers Mickey Edwards (foot) and Matt Milnes (back) have already been ruled out for the season with stress fractures, leaving little room for rest and rotation.

Wildcard watch: Eight Yorkshire players, including Jonny Bairstow, Harry Brook, Donovan Ferreira, Adil Rashid and Joe Root, will be involved in this summer’s Hundred. Leg-spinner Jafer Chohan was on Southern Brave’s roster last year but didn’t play. He should be key for the Vikings, and good form can catch the eye again.

Final thought: Yorkshire could do with a Blast boost. They have been a long way short of their pre-season title favourites tag in the first half of the County Championship Division Two campaign. With their seam-bowling stocks depleted, it could be a case of spin it to win it, with Dom Bess, Dan Moriarty and Jafer Chohan all good to go.

Ad content | Stream Sky Sports on NOW

Stream Sky Sports live with no contract on a Month or Day membership on NOW. Instant access to live action from the Premier League and EFL, plus darts, cricket, tennis, golf and so much more.


Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! Swift Telecast is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a Comment