Vitality Blast: Ben Duckett says Nottinghamshire must improve to win

Ben Duckett
Ben Duckett

Ben Duckett believes Nottinghamshire reaching Finals Day in the Vitality Blast is all the more impressive because they were "pretty average" in the group stages.

Nottinghamshire won just six of their 14 games in the North Group and although they were hampered by four no-results because of the inclement weather, they still managed to finish second in the standings.

Alex Hales' unbeaten 83 from 47 balls saw Nottinghamshire thump Middlesex by 10 wickets earlier this month to book a place at Edgbaston, where they will take on defending champions Worcestershire in Saturday's first semi-final.

Duckett, a two-time winner of the competition with Northamptonshire, said on Nottinghamshire's website: "It's been a strange competition. We've had four matches rained off, that's more than I can ever remember in the past.

"I think at times we were pretty average in the group stages but that shows how good we are to still come second in the group and get the home quarter-final.

"Then we put in the complete performance against Middlesex and feel we are in a good place going into Saturday."

The 11am start between the competition's two most recent winners suits Duckett, who added: "I've always enjoyed playing in that first semi-final and then you can get away for a couple of hours.

"For the team that wins the second semi-final, it almost looks a bit rushed to me. They finish the game and then they're back out there and have to go again."

Pat Brown believes one of the reasons Worcestershire have reached Finals Day for a second year in succession is they have not had to rely on one or two star talents.

He said on his club's website: "If you look at the leading run-scorers and wicket-takers in the competition we've not got anyone who is right up there.

"But we always have someone come to the party and deliver when we need it."

Essex have qualified for Finals Day on four occasions in their history but have never before reached the day's showpiece.

They will get another chance to do so in Birmingham when they take on Derbyshire in the other semi-final, scheduled to start at 2.30pm.

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath said: "Neither Adam Zampa nor Mohammad Amir are available which is disappointing because they have been an integral part of getting us through the group stages.

"But it has given other members of the squad the opportunity to come in, put their hand up and show what they can do.

"All we can do is to draw on what we've done in this competition, play how we we've been playing and hopefully, that will be enough."

Derbyshire captain Billy Godleman is thankful the County Championship has taken their minds away from Finals Day.

He said: "I haven't had that much time to think about it. There have been two back-to-back championship matches with quite a bit of travel in between which I personally think is a good thing."

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