T20 preview: Notts Outlaws v Worcestershire

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The players of Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire should be fairly familiar with each other by the end of this week.

After four days of competitive action in the LV= County Championship the whites are swapped for the coloured clothing as the Outlaws and the Rapids switch their attentions to the NatWest T20 Blast competition.

Friday’s meeting at Trent Bridge takes on extra significance with both counties desperate for the win. A stuttering start to the campaign has left the hosts with work to do in order to take their customary place in the knock out stages.

In each of the last five years they have qualified for a home quarter final but having lost five of their first nine matches they can’t afford too many more mishaps if they are to progress out of a tough North group.

Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire’s director of cricket, has challenged his side to win four of their last five NatWest T20 Blast matches in order to secure that qualification.

“It’s very much up in the air again and Birmingham, who won it last year, qualified with 16 points,” he said. “With five games to go, we’re quite capable of winning four of them and getting to that total.

“Looking at the group this year, nobody is running away with it so 15 points might even get you through, because all teams are beating each other.”

The Rapids, in contrast, have been playing some of their best T20 cricket for a while and currently sit second in the table, although one of their three losses came against the Outlaws at New Road.

Samit Patel turned in a man of the match performance that day, making 30 before turning in a spell of three for 17 to help secure an 11-run victory for Notts.

The all-rounder was at it again last weekend, seeing the Outlaws over the line against Northants and he admitted his side have not been at their best of late.

“It’s been a tough couple of weeks really, in both four-day and T20 cricket. On paper we are a good team but have probably been under-achieving but hopefully this will be a massive boost for us,” he said.

Luke Fletcher and James Taylor were members of the winning Outlaws side at New Road but both will be missing on Friday evening after picking up hamstring injuries in the four-day match against Worcestershire.

Taylor’s absence is likely to mean that Riki Wessels will captain the Outlaws for the first time in this format, in what will be his 100th T20 match in England.

Whilst the obvious focus will be on the respective playing elevens, there is also bound to be some attention directed towards the Outlaws’ latest off-field acquisition, with Peter Moores having taken up an offer to join the backroom set up at Trent Bridge as a coaching consultant.

Moores’ three-month fixed-term contract starts with this fixture and Newell hopes the experience of the former England head coach will be beneficial to all of his staff.

He said: “Peter is an excellent one-to-one coach, who will bring fresh ideas and can work with players to improve their form. It also offers our existing coaching team the opportunity to learn from him. ”