Westley offers top-bat value
Andy Schooler feels Tom Westley is the value pick to outscore his better-known Essex team-mates in Friday night's T20 Blast TV game.
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Tom Westley is the value pick to outscore his better-known Essex team-mates in Friday night's T20 Blast TV game. While plenty of attention will be on England's Ravi Bopara and New Zealander Jesse Ryder, our Andy Schooler feels Westley is worthy of consideration. Our tipster also has a match-result double for you in our latest Friday night domestic cricket preview which has already produced profits this season. Essex v Middlesex, Sky Sports 2, 1900 BST start There will be plenty of eyes on Ravi Bopara for Friday night's TV game at Chelmsford with the England star having been in good form for his county of late. He's been a welcome addition to the Essex set-up since the England-Sri Lanka ODI series finished and he's been a key figure in helping them win five of their first six games in the T20 Blast competition. Bopara is currently averaging more than 200 in this competition, having top-scored in each of the Eagles' last two games, scoring 81 not out against Kent and 66 not out last week against Gloucestershire. He'll certainly have his backers at 7/2 but looks short enough to me, particularly given he bats at four. Tom Westley is a player less well known but the Essex number three could be the value call in a game which pits the South Division leaders against a side rock-bottom and already looking highly likely to miss out on the knockout stages. Westley has top-scored for Essex in games against Glamorgan (48) and Surrey (44) already this season and also can consider himself a tad unfortunate to miss out on a market hat-trick given he made 55 not out against Gloucestershire. A solid contributor of runs, if Essex dominate the Middlesex attack like they did in the reverse fixture - and there appears every chance - then Bopara may not get the time at the crease he'll need. That was certainly the case at Lord's. Westley is a 5/1 shot in the market which looks like it could offer some value and certainly looks a better bet than backing 3/1 market leader Jesse Ryder, who has managed to top-score of just 32 in his six games so far. Best of the rest: Hampshire play host to Gloucestershire at the Aegas Bowl and look a solid play even at a short price. Like Essex, the south-coast outfit have a strong batting line-up capable of setting or chasing a big score and they have proved that already this season. Michael Carberry and James Vince are two impressive openers who can really hit the ball, while Glenn Maxwell has star quality in this format as their overseas star. With limited-overs expert Owais Shah, picked up from Essex in the winter, coming in at five, they have runs aplenty in them, even if they od start with a stutter. A four-match winning streak was halted last week by Somerset but they only lost by one run, the game having gone to the final ball. Back on home territory where they have a very strong record, I'm happy to side with them against a Gloucestershire side thrashed by Essex, the other class outfit in this section, last week. The Gladiators have also failed to chase down 137 against Kent and were well beaten by Somerset. They are easily opposed here. Dabbling in short prices in T20 cricket might not be everyone's cup of tea but I simply can't see past Essex and Hampshire this week and recommend backing the pair in a double.