Kent an open and shut case

  • By: Andy Schooler
  • Last Updated: July 17 2014, 15:55 BST

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 county previews this season.

Rob Key can help Kent post a higher opening stand than Somerset
Rob Key can help Kent post a higher opening stand than Somerset

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:

Kent v Somerset, Sky Sports 2, 1900 BST

Kent denied us a profit in this column last week with a decent win over Sussex and I'm a little surprised to see them priced up at 13/10 to win this one.

They've won just four games in the competition so far but then Somerset have have just one more victory on their record.

The pressure is firmly on the Cidermen, who know they will need to win in Canterbury and again next week to stand any chance of reaching the knockout stages.

With that in mind, Craig Kieswetter's injury could not have come at a worse time. He was left bloodied and battered by a ball which went through the grille on his helmet last weekend and he's almost certain to be missing on Friday night.

Given he's the second-highest runscorer in the competition with 497 runs at an average of 49.7, you can see what I mean.

With fellow opener Marcus Trescothick having struggled all season, Kieswetter has held the top of the batting together in what has been a disappointing campaign for Somerset.

With Kieswetter absent, the highest opening partnership market is where the value could lie.

Somerset have failed to impress with their opening stands this term - only four times have the openers put on more than 25 - and they are certainly worse off without the wicketkeeper-batsman in their ranks.

Kent have been much better in that department with Rob Key and Daniel Drummond-Bell having put on 25 more often than not (seven times in 12 matches).

The Spitfires' average opening stand is over 33, almost six runs higher than Somerset's, while their openers put on 85 in the reverse fixture to Somerset's 18.

With new-ball bowler Darren Stevens having enjoyed a good tournament, it is also significant that Kent have had the highest opening stand in 10 of their 12 games.

Despite all this, they remain outsiders at evens to Somerset's 8/11.

While this is a market where just one jaffa of a delivery could thwart us, the evidence is strong enough to have a bet on Kent producing the higher opening partnership and this looks the way to go.

Best of the rest

My colleague Dave Tickner picked out Worcestershire in his ante-post preview at a whopping 40/1 and they've already done more than enough to justify that call.

However, they have not yet qualified for the quarter-finals and the lost of Pakistani spinner Saeed Ajmal, who is off to the Caribbean Premier League, has to be classed as a major loss.

A win at Northants will probably be enough for the Rapids to reach the knockout stages but the defending champions must win to keep their own hopes alive and Ajmal's absence gives them serious hope of doing so.

Worcestershire have lost their last two and, due to abandoned games, you have to go back to June 20 for their last victory.

In contrast, Northants are winners of their last two completed matches and look tempting in what the layers make a pick 'em affair, particularly with home advantage.

For those happy to back odds-on shots, Essex and Hampshire have already earned this column profits this season and the pair will likely win again this week.

The Eagles have lost only once this season and seem capable of chasing down any total or setting a massive one - as they did at Colchester at the weekend - such is the strength of their batting. They head to Glamorgan.

Hampshire, so strong at home in the T20 format over a long period of time, know a win over local rivals Sussex will all-but book their place in the last eight. They also bat deep and for me they are simply the better side.

The double pays 9/5.

  • Posted at 1545 BST on 17/07/2014.