Sunday, April 21, 2024

PCA: Blast MVP – Quarter-final preview

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Photo Credit: Professional Cricketers’ Association

MVP high-flyers to watch during this week’s knockout fixtures.

The race for the 2021 Vitality Blast MVP will resume this week as the quarter finals are set to take place, beginning with Yorkshire Vikings v Sussex Sharks on Tuesday.

A number of this year’s quarter-finalists are in contention to push into the MVP top 10 and beyond as they aim to secure an appearance at Finals Day at Edgbaston on Saturday 18 September.

The 2021 Blast MVP will follow in the footsteps of 2020 winner Will Jacks, collecting a cash prize of £2,500 for their efforts.

They will join Royal London Cup MVP Scott Borthwick and men’s Hundred MVP Liam Livingstone in having claimed an individual award based on MVP points in men’s domestic cricket this summer.

Here is a preview of which players to look out for during each of this week’s four Blast fixtures:

Yorkshire Vikings v Sussex Sharks

Breakout star Harry Brook is the highest ranked player in the Blast MVP from either of the sides taking place in the week’s first quarter-final.

The June PCA Player of the Month claimed that award based on his fine form in the early stages of this summer’s Blast, and he currently sits in 11th position in the Blast MVP Rankings with 145.6 points to his name at an average of 12.1 points-per-game.

Brook’s next highest-ranked teammate is Lockie Ferguson, who has scored the ninth most bowling MVP points during the 2021 Blast with 98.6, though the fiery fast bowler misses out this week having contracted Covid-19.

All-rounder Jordan Thompson (101 MVP points) will be looking to make up for the loss of Ferguson in the fast bowling department, the impressive youngster one of Yorkshire’s three players to have scored over 100 Blast MVP points this season, though Dom Bess (92) could pass that mark on Tuesday.

Like the Vikings, the Sharks have shared the Blast MVP points around this season. Ravi Bopara (107 MVP points – 47th in the MVP) is the side’s highest scorer to date, with the experienced pair of Luke Wright (100) and Phil Salt (94.9) having also made a significant impression.

George Garton (76.7 MVP points), Tymal Mills (76) and Chris Jordan (49.7) will all return after victory in the men’s Hundred with Southern Brave, whilst all eyes will be on 17-year-old Archie Lenham (57.3), who has already enjoyed a memorable Blast campaign having become the youngest wicket-taker in the competition’s history during the group stages.

Notts Outlaws v Hampshire Hawks

Notts’ star man throughout the Blast has undoubtedly been all-rounder Samit Patel. The 2017 Overall MVP continues to show his class in the shortest format and sits top of the Blast MVP with a highly impressive 218 MVP points to his name.

Another experienced name, all-rounder Steven Mullaney, also makes the current Blast MVP top 10 with 147 MVP points, whilst the likes of Alex Hales (136) and Matt Carter (134) will return after stints with Trent Rockets in the Hundred.

In total, the Outlaws boast seven players who have scored more than 100 Blast MVP points going into the quarter-finals, illustrating why the Trent Bridge-based side were able to top the North Group with an excellent record of nine wins from their 14 group fixtures.

Notts’ opponents Hampshire Hawks will be buoyed by the news that 2019 Blast MVP D’Arcy Short will be available for selection for their crucial fixture on Wednesday. The Australian made short work of the Blast MVP two seasons ago, finishing with 186 MVP points to his name – 25 more than anyone else.

This season, Short is the Hawks’ highest points-scorer with 117, whilst captain James Vince (114) and Brad Wheal (93.2) have also impressed for the side which qualified for the quarters by incredibly chasing down Glamorgan’s 184-4 in just 12.5 overs to usurp Surrey on net run rate after the final round of group fixtures.

Somerset v Lancashire Lightning

A key man across all formats, Somerset’s leading Blast MVP points-scorer Craig Overton (117 MVP points) may miss the quarter-finals if he is selected to play in England’s third Test Match against India.

If so, speedster Marchant de Lange (101) will look to make up for Overton’s absence after a Hundred stint which saw him claim 5-20 in Trent Rockets’ opening game and finish 13th in the men’s Hundred MVP.

Somerset will be looking to their wealth of young talent to put runs on the board – Lewis Goldsworthy, Will Smeed and Tom Banton each have 85.1, 81.9 and 80.2 Blast MVP points respectively, whilst Tom Lammonby’s amazing 90 from 36 balls propelled his team to the knockout stages back in July.

Somerset will welcome Lancashire Lightning to the Cooper Associates County Ground on Thursday, and the visiting side will be boosted by the presence of men’s Hundred MVP Liam Livingstone, who has so far scored 111 MVP points at a huge average of 22.2 points-per-game during the Blast, sitting 41st in the Rankings despite having only made five competition appearances.

July PCA Player of the Month Tom Hartley has the most Blast MVP points for Lightning with 139, whilst Finn Allen (113), Luke Wood (109) and Steven Croft (102) have all also impressed for the side who were last named Blast champions in 2015.

Kent Spitfires v Birmingham Bears

The impressive Spitfires topped this season’s South Group with nine group stage wins, despite not having relied on the performances of any single player to do so.

Jack Leaning (108 MVP points) is the side’s highest-ranked player in the Blast MVP in 45th position, whilst only Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly (both 106) have also passed the 100-point mark.

Leg-spinner Qais Ahmad will be one to watch after he finished seventh in the men’s Hundred MVP – only Tymal Mills and Adam Milne scored more bowling MVP points in the 100-ball competition than the Afghanistan international’s 82.

For Birmingham, skipper Will Rhodes has led from the front in scoring 139 MVP points during the group stage – the all-rounder currently sits in 16th position in the Blast MVP, with teammate Carlos Brathwaite just behind in 18th position on 138 points.

Sam Hain has also shown his class in accumulating 128 Blast MVP points, whilst left-arm leg-spinner Jake Lintott has been one of the success stories of the summer having scored 101 points after beginning the season as a relative unknown.

Find out more about the PCA MVP Rankings which were relaunched by the PCA and CricViz ahead of the 2021 domestic season.

Follow @pcaMVP on Twitter to keep up-to-date with all the latest MVP news.

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