October 23, 2021, 23:02

Vitality Blast Finals Day: James Vince, Lewis Gregory, Sam Billings, Luke Wright vie to lift T20 trophy

Vitality Blast Finals Day: James Vince, Lewis Gregory, Sam Billings, Luke Wright vie to lift T20 trophy

James Vince’s Hampshire will take on Lewis Gregory’s Somerset in the opening semi-final on Saturday

Four captains. One goal.

Who will be lifting the Vitality Blast trophy on Finals Day? Hampshire Hawks’ James Vince, Somerset’s Lewis Gregory, Kent Spitfires’ Sam Billings and Sussex Sharks’ Luke Wright give us the lowdown on their sides…

First semi-final: Hampshire Hawks vs Somerset, Sky Sports Cricket 10.30am

The opening semi-final sees Hampshire Hawks’ Vince – a two-time Vitality Blast winner and the man who led Southern Brave to victory in the inaugural The Hundred – take on Somerset, a side blessed with an array of potent batsman and skippered by Gregory, who will play as a batter only as he continues to recover from injury.

Live Vitality T20 Blast Cricket

September 18, 2021, 10:30am

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JAMES VINCE, HAMPSHIRE HAWKS

“Confidence is high; the spirit of the group plays a massive part [in successful T20 sides] as well as having high-quality players; one thing we’ve certainly got in our dressing room is a great belief that we can win from any position.

“It’s obviously been a while since the quarter-final and the group stages were a few weeks before that – so no team has been playing T20 cricket recently. We haven’t been here for a few years so I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve got a mix of old guys and young guys and plenty of character.

Only Vince (371) has scored more runs than the pictured Joe Weatherley (339) in this season’s Vitality Blast

“I feel in reasonable touch; it’s been a good summer so far off the back of a good winter last year so hopefully that continues and I can make an impact. The Hundred was really good – we couldn’t have expected it to go any better.

“This is one of the best places to play cricket in England, full stop. You’ve just got to enjoy the day, which is one of the best days of the year in county cricket.”

LEWIS GREGORY, SOMERSET

“Three weeks ago we had a fantastic night against Lancashire at home in the quarters, in front of a full crowd, which was amazing and it’s been a pretty disappointing three weeks with the Championship form, but Finals Day gives guys a little bit of a buzz and refreshment; everyone’s really excited.

“We’ve done things really well with bat and ball at the right times; we’ve been pretty clinical throughout. They [players like Tom Banton, Tom Abell, Tom Lammonby] have got a lot of exuberance and power – a lot of them have grown up playing T20 cricket, playing all the shots and they’re used to hitting it out the park.

Josh Davey, Tom Banton, Ben Green and Tom Lammonby at Somerset training

“For us, playing at Taunton, you do have to execute at the death otherwise you can disappear on a good surface and a small playing field and I think the addition of Marchant de Lange has been huge for us; he’s closed out innings and games for us with the ball brilliantly.

“We’ve made a conscious decision this year to spend a lot more time on our death bowling as a group of bowlers and I think we’ve seen the fruits of that, being pretty clinical.”

Second semi-final: Kent Spitfires vs Sussex Sharks, Sky Sports Cricket 2.30pm

The second semi-final pits Kent Spitfires, who have not collected a white-ball trophy since 2007 when they won the Twenty20 Cup, against Sussex Sharks – a county determined to give out-going stars Phil Salt and Chris Jordan a trophy send-off…

Kent’s Sam Billings and Sussex’s Luke Wright pose with the Vitality T20 Blast trophy

SAM BILLINGS, KENT SPITFIRES

“The quarter-final stage has been a bit of a hurdle for us – we’ve been on the wrong end of a few and the positive thing is taking it forward; it’s a really good experience to come out of those big games the other side as a team.

“Finals Day has been elusive but that’s just a show of where we’ve evolved as a team; it has taken a few years for the group to move forward and gain the experience that is needed in those big games.

Kent’s Sam Billings goes on the offensive during the Vitality T20 Blast Quarter Final match against Birmingham Bears

“This is close to the best Kent T20 outfit I’ve been part of – in terms of all-rounders, I think it is. It’s a shame that we haven’t got Adam Milne, who in my opinion is one of the best death bowlers around the world in the last couple of years. But we do have depth and guys who can step in.

“We’ve kind of been threatening [to win a white-ball trophy] for quite a while – so as a bloke who has been at the club since the age of eight, it would mean everything to win.”

LUKE WRIGHT, SUSSEX SHARKS

“I’m sad to see Phil and Chris go – they’ve been two great performers for us. We want to go out for them with a trophy; there’s no questioning their commitment to us this season. It’s something the club needs to look at as we can’t be losing our best players all of the time.

Mark Butcher and Rob Key assess the sides to have reached Vitality Blast Finals Day – Sussex, Hampshire, Somerset and Kent. Mark Butcher and Rob Key assess the sides to have reached Vitality Blast Finals Day – Sussex, Hampshire, Somerset and Kent.

“We’ve obviously got a good chance of winning, like all four teams; we’re obviously at our strongest this year, maybe, compared to next year. Does that mean we can’t be back here next year competing? Absolutely not. Does it make it more tricky? Yes, but you’ve just got to find a different way.

“It has been a really tough season, which I suppose it was always going to be for that young squad but the club want to go really young at the moment in four-day cricket; that is a process that is going to be a hard road at times. I feel for some of those young lads. I couldn’t imagine not having senior players around me when I started my career. They are having some really tough lessons but there is some real talent in there, which is really exciting.

Live Vitality T20 Blast Cricket

September 18, 2021, 2:30pm

Live on

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“Tymal [Mills] came into the season with a really bad injury but he did really well for us and excelled in The Hundred; the progression he has made with his bowling and his performances in the big moments has been a big one for him.”

Vitality Blast Finals Day 2021 is supporting the players’ charity: the Professional Cricketers’ Trust. Saturday 18 September will see a day of fundraising and awareness for the Trust on one of the biggest days of the domestic calendar at Edgbaston. Visit bit.ly/DonateFinalsDay to find out more. To donate £10 to the PCT text TRUSTTEN to 70085.

Source: skysports.com

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