Cricket: Gloucestershire prepare for NatWest T20 Blast
Gloucestershire will be hoping their Australian batting stars will take up where they left off when the club’s NatWest T20 Blast campaign starts against Middlesex on Friday, May 15.
Twenty20 cricket, the sport’s fastest format, wherein each team’s innings lasts for a maximum of twenty overs has expanded globally since being pioneered in England and Wales in 2003.
The Australian equivalent, the Big Bash League, has recently completed its fourth season and Gloucestershire have signed the only two players making centuries during this latest campaign.
Michael ‘Maxy’ Klinger (pictured above) needs no introduction; his third Gloucestershire stint starts in June and fans will be crossing fingers for a repeat of the 2013 campaign when he scored over 1,000 runs in both the County Championship and limited overs formats.
Twenty four-year-old Peter Handscomb made 103 not out, including five sixes, off 63 balls for the Melbourne Stars in their tie against Perth Scorers in January, his last 54 runs coming off just 20 deliveries. That he did so in the cavernous, 90,000-seat Melbourne Cricket Ground means Nevil Road’s modest boundaries will hold no fear for him.
More threatening is the presence of England fast bowler Steven Finn in Middlesex’s line-up. Finn’s ongoing absence of mojo frustrates coaches and England fans alike; one day, surely, he will return to his destructive best.
Essex may well have another England outcast, Ravi Bopara, among their ranks when in town on May 24 when Gloucestershire stage their family day while Glamorgan are the visitors for a Severnside derby on June 12.
Expect ‘house full’ signs on June 19 with the arrival of Somerset, a tie given extra meaning by the presence of two members of England’s victorious 2005 Ashes squad, home captain Geraint Jones and Somerset’s Marcus Trescothick.
Sussex’s array of stars should include Matt Prior, Chris Jordan and the highly-rated Tymal Mills on June 26.
While all of the above fixtures are at Bristol’s County Ground, Gloucestershire will play two Blast matches in Cheltenham, against Kent on July 12 and Hampshire two days later.
Play starts against Middlesex at 5.30pm on Friday, with doors opening at 3.30pm. Additional attractions include free cricket coaching for children, player signings and competitions, with interval entertainment and music throughout. Fans will also be able to buy tickets for the ground’s Madness concert on Saturday September 12.
Cricket admission for Middlesex tie: Adults £15/£20 advance/on day, 18 and under £3/£5, family £33/£45, from www.gloscricket.co.uk.