Pick Plunkett - and Foxes

  • By: Simon Crawford
  • Last Updated: May 23 2014, 20:30 BST

In the first of our new-look county cricket previews, Simon Crawford feels Liam Plunkett is good value in Friday's T20 Blast action.

Liam Plunkett: In fine form with the bat for Yorkshire
Liam Plunkett: In fine form with the bat for Yorkshire

With the T20 Blast now having a regular Friday slot in the cricket calendar, we'll be focusing on the shortest form of the game with our previews this season.

Towards the end of the week we'll look ahead to the Friday round of matches, which will usually include a televised fixture - one we'll take a close look at given the TV games are often seen as good punting material.

Here's our look at this Friday's action:

Birmingham Bears v Yorkshire Vikings, live on Sky Sports, 1830 BST start

Warwickshire, aka the Birmingham Bears, get their NatWest Twenty20 Blast campaign under way when they welcome Yorkshire Vikings to Edgbaston on Friday evening.

The Tykes are well fancied to do well in all three domestic competitions this season, but did not make the start they were looking for in the shortest format when they lost their opener to defending champions Northamptonshire in a very tight finish at Headingley.

They go into the game without Joe Root and Gary Ballance, who are on England duty, while explosive Australia opener Aaron Finch has not yet arrived in the country due to his commitments in the Indian Premier League.

However, they still have current internationals Kane Williamson, Tim Bresnan and Jonny Bairstow to call upon, as well as a wealth of experience from the likes of Ryan Sidebottom, Andrew Gale and Jack Brooks.

The hosts, renamed for T20 action this season, will nearly always be strong at home you would feel, but Sky Bet make Yorkshire 8/11 favourites to claim their first win with the Bears an 11/10 chance.

If I were looking for a Friday night T20 double, or even a treble, then I'd be looking to involve that 11/10.

But I do feel there is a chance of richer pickings by looking at the top batsman market and Yorkshire's Liam Plunkett is showing plenty of appeal at 20/1.

Of course, if the Vikings bat well then there's every chance the former England all-rounder will not to get to wield the willow. That's the chance you take but he still looks worth backing - he's no 25/1 shot in my eyes.

The 29-year-old has enjoyed a new lease of life since leaving Durham and his powerful and clean striking of the ball makes him potentially very destructive at the end of an innings.

He top-scored in that T20 defeat to Northants with 36 from 24 balls (including six boundaries) and in his last four innings he has also made scores of 56 and 86, albeit these were in longer forms of the game.

He can be a match-winner with either bat or ball, is certainly a player in form and in my view well worth taking a chance on.

Best of the rest

Elsewhere, on Friday night and I'm looking to oppose Northants despite that narrow win at Headingley.

The holders were far from convincing that night and their confidence will not be high after a torrid start on their return to the top division of the County Championship which has seen them lose four of their five games so far.

Certainly T20 is totally different, true they are the current holders but I don't think you can suddenly change the mood of the camp totally just by playing a different format.

The Leicestershire Foxes are the visitors to Wantage Road and for me they are one of the competition's dark horses.

They made a shrewd decision in recruiting veteran New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris as their overseas player.

It paid instant dividends as his superb 63 not out from just 31 balls on debut helped the Foxes to 197 for four against Debyshire in their opener which they eventually won by 27 runs.

Josh Cobb (38), Greg Smith (35) and Ned Eckersley (33) also made notable contributions and while their bowling is not the strongest, they are more than capable of matching other sides with the bat.

Northants are 8/11 favourites to win this game but I have a fancy for the Foxes and like the 5/4 being offered on them.

  • Posted at 0005 BST on 23/05/2014.