NatWest T20 Blast review
Sixes galore and that catch from Yorkshire, we look back at the T20 Blast highlights so far
By Joe Drabble - @Joe_Drabs
Last Updated: 11/06/14 11:05am
The revamped NatWest T20 Blast has lifted off in style and provided the perfect pre-weekend tonic for supporters up and down England and Wales.
The Friday night atmosphere has breathed new life into county cricket with numerous grounds sold-out and spectators treated to some spectacular performances.
Below we have picked out the star men of the competition so far with video for you to enjoy.
Most runs: James Vince – Hampshire 220 (average 55)
The highly-rated Hampshire youngster looks destined for international honours and has given the England selectors a timely reminder of his credentials in the early stages of the season with a blistering start to all formats of the game. He has already passed 700 runs in eight County Championship fixtures and tops the T20 Blast run-scoring charts despite playing one game less than many of his rivals. He has posted three half-centuries in the opening five matches, top-scoring with 68 off just 38 balls against Middlesex. Six other players have passed 200 runs in the early stages of the competition; Dawid Malan (Middlesex), Tom Smith (Lancashire), Calum MacLeod (Durham), Jim Allenby (Glamorgan), Jason Roy (Surrey) and Karl Brown (Lancashire).
Highest score: Dan Christian – Kent v Middlesex (129 off 57 balls)
Remarkably, Christian’s breathtaking century, the only one of the campaign to-date, came in a losing cause! The powerful Australian all-rounder dispatched the Kent bowling attack to all parts on June 6, cracking 10 sixes and 12 fours at the St Lawrence Ground on his way to 129 from 57 balls. Despite the New South Welshman’s heroics, Middlesex fell 16 runs short of the Kent target, slumping to their fifth successive defeat in the competition. Five other players have come close to a century, Jim Allenby (96*), Mark Pettini (95*), David Willey (95), Peter Trego (94*) and Marcus North (90) all reaching the nineties.
Most sixes: David Willey - Northamptonshire (13)
Undoubtedly the star of the 2013 Twenty20 competition and one of the main reasons Northamptonshire scooped the title, Willey has picked up where he left off this summer, but this time with the bat. Recognised mainly for his bowling prowess, not least due to his hat-trick in last year’s final, Willey has been given a new lease of life at the top of the Steelbacks' order and formed an explosive partnership with South African star Richard Levi. In three matches Willey has cleared the rope on 13 occasions, posting scores of 43, 95 and 34. It surely can’t be long before the England selectors come calling.
Most wickets: Doug Bollinger - Kent & Danny Briggs - Hampshire (11)
Australian left-armer Doug Bollinger has proved a shrewd signing for Kent and his wickets have propelled the Spitfires to an encouraging start in this year’s T20 Blast. Bollinger boasts a brilliant average of 10 from four matches, bettered only by Birmingham Bear Jeetan Patel (8.14). Young Hampshire left-arm spinner Briggs has been one of the most consistent T20 performers in recent years and his wickets, along with Vince’s runs, make the Royals a dangerous proposition.
Best catch: Adam Lyth & Aaron Finch (Lancs v Yorks)
Dubbed ‘the best catch I’ve ever seen’ by Nasser Hussain in the Sky Sports commentary box, Adam Lyth’s spectacular assist for Yorkshire team-mate Aaron Finch at long-on in the recent Roses encounter brought even the odd Lancashire supporter to their feet. Tom Smith would have been adding another six runs to his tally when the ball came off his bat but Lyth somehow dived backwards, palmed the ball back inside the rope, where Finch was on hand to mop up. Watch the incredible piece of fielding here.
Talking point: Freddie is back!
After a five-year hiatus from the professional game, Andrew Flintoff could not resist any longer. He took his place in the dug-out for Lancashire v Yorkshire encounter at Old Trafford and could be in line to return when the Red Rose county take on Leicestershire Foxes on June 13. Staying injury-free has always been an issue for big Fred, hopefully his return is a success.
Comedy moment: Commentary box invaded
David Lloyd received a surprise visit at Grace Road when two Stormtroopers invaded the commentary box during Leicestershire's match with Birmingham Bears. Bumble was less than impressed with the state of one of the troopers, who was in desperate need of a shower!