It’s amazing to think this 50 over competition is reaching it’s climax. Today, a Friday and a working day we have the 2 play off matches, as a pre-cursor to the semi-finals. I’m sitting just outside Newcastle, here for the European Rugby, hoping my team, Saracens lift the Champions Cup tomorrow.

I listened to BBC Radio 5 Live on the way up and found myself slightly annoyed by the crowing Somerset Radio presenter who was certain his ground in Taunton would have had a large audience today. On a working day he can’t know that, unless Taunton has thousands of retired members. The ECB have really shown their lack of regard for county cricket fans already with their fixture list this summer. To give just a few days notice for a play off game is almost guaranteeing failure crowds wise.

We have a match at Lord’s and New Road Worcester today. How many Star Men will we have?

Worcester 190 All Out v Somerset 337 for 8

Brett D’Oliveira won the toss and put Somerset in to bat. That couldn’t have gone more wrong for the home team, Azhar was out in the 14th over for 29, I listened to most of Tom Blanton’s innings on my drive up the A1, it was clear the batsmen had the ascendancy. Blanton and Peter Trego put on a partnership of 115 for the 2nd wicket, with Blanton making 112 from 103 balls, his was the 3rd wicket to fall when Somerset were 203 for 3. James Hildreth scored 38 from 23 balls and Somerset built to 337 for 8 in their 50 overs.

In reply Worcestershire had what can only be described as a shocker! Azhar, who I really only know as a batsman for Pakistan, took 5 wickets for 34 runs in 7 overs, including 2 caught and bowled. Daryl Mitchell too scored with 34 from 77 balls as the home team were bowled out for 190 in just 38 overs. A huge win for Somerset who now travel to the Trent Bridge for the semi-final.

  • Tom Banton – 112 from 103 Balls – Strike Rate 108.73
  • Azhar Ali – 5 for 34

Middlesex 284 All Out v Lancashire 304 for 4

Stevie Eskinazi won the toss and put Lancashire in to bat. Liam Livingstone opening with Keaton Jennings was out for 4, not the best start for Lancs at 6 for 1. But Steven Croft at 3 formed a partnership of 159 with Jennings. Jennings was the 2nd wicket to fall when he was on 96. Inevitably Nathan Sowter who’s had a great tournament took the wicket of Croft, who scored 68. Dane Vilas contributed 70 from 67 balls as Lancs amassed 304 for 4 in their 50 overs

Middlesex had a horror start to their innings as Jimmy Anderson first ran out Wunderkid Max Holden before blowing Nick Gubbins. 12 for 2 became 24 for 5 as Saqib Mahmood took 3 quick wickets. The run chase must’ve looked impossible at that stage. James Harris in at 6 alongside John Simpson formed a partnership of 197 for the 6th wicket, giving Middlesex some hope. Harris made 117 from 108 ballsbatting for just over 2 hours, his List A average took something of a leap with this innings!

Wicket keeper Simpson was another victim to the arm of Anderson as he was run out for 74. George Scott and Toby Rolan-Jones both contributed 26 but wickets kept falling and Middlesex were bowled out for 284, remarkably just 20 runs short of the Lancs total. Mahmoud was the pick of the bowlers with 4 for 38. Lancashire travel to The Agra’s Bowl to play Hampshire in their semi-final.

  • James Harris 117 from 108 Balls – Strike Rate 108.33

My team Saracens play their final this evening, I’ll be hoping to listen to a semi-final on my way home tomorrow

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