Bob Willis Trophy Review | Cricket Betting
Five Things We've Learned From The Bob Willis Trophy's Opening Games
Cricket fans have been treated to a number of intriguing matches since the Bob Willis Trophy got underway on August 1. These are the key talking points since country cricket made a welcome return to action:
An Abundance of Quality and Drama
The organisers of the Bob Willis Trophy deserve great credit for displaying ingenuity, diligence and determination to create this one-off tournament. Fans were in danger of missing an entire county cricket season as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, so they were delighted to see a five-week block of red-ball cricket confirmed. However, the jury was out. Some feared it would prove to be a poorly implemented sideshow that paled in comparison to a traditional county cricket season, and others worried about a distinct lack of quality from rusty players that lacked motivation.
Yet those fears have thus far proven to be unfounded. Derbyshire and Leicester led the charge by securing dramatic wins in the opening round of matches. Upsets abounded. There were displays of individual brilliance, and some heartbreaking moments for losing teams. Counties are freed from the fear of relegation, and they are playing with the handbrake off, while the declaration rule added another layer of drama to proceedings. The overall level of quality has been high. These are undoubtedly strange circumstances, with empty stadiums, a truncated format and searing summer temperatures, but kudos to the organisers and the players for putting on a great show so far.
Somerset Make a Flying Start
Somerset have come flying out of the blocks as they bid to bring the Bob Willis Trophy back to the West Country. Surrey-bound Jamie Overton claimed a five-wicket haul as they beat Glamorgan by 289 runs in their opener. His brother, Craig, was also in fine form at the County Ground in Bristol, finishing with match figures of 7-69. Somerset put up 296 in the first innings and reduced Glamorgan to a mere 131. They declared at 290-8 in the second innings, and then ripped their opponents apart to secure an emphatic victory.
The ferocious Somerset fast-bowling attack then decimated Northants in their second match. It took just two days to wrap up the win. They bowled their opponents out for a paltry 67 on Saturday, and then set Northants an unlikely target of 322 to win on Sunday. The hosts had a glimmer of hope when they reached 148-4, but they then lost six wickets for six runs, allowing Somerset to secure the easiest of victories. Jamie Overton took 4-26 and Craig impressed with a quick-fire trio of sixes in a match played at thrilling, breakneck speed. Somerset looked all but certain to win the County Championship last year, only to be pipped to the post by Essex. Now they are determined to seize glory, and they are in formidable form.
Essex Show Their Mettle
Many pundits named Essex as the favourites for the Bob Willis Trophy after their impressive showing in last year’s County Championship. They boast the likes of Sir Alastair Cook, Simon Harmer, Jamie Porter, Sam Cook and Aaron Beard within their ranks, so it is easy to see why they are rated so highly. However, they now represent a major scalp for their opponents. Kent put up a fierce fight in their opening match at Chelmsford, and it required late heroics from Sam Cook and Adam Wheater to get them over the line.
Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook proved he is still a force to be reckoned with a knock of 66, but Essex found debutant Feroze Khushi in terrific form. Kent were on top for large period of the match, but Harmer, Sam Cook and Porter turned the tide in the champions’ favour on day three. Essex are in an extremely competitive South Group, but they continued to dazzle against Surrey in their second match. We have all sorts of pre-match and live cricket spread betting and cricket odds markets on Essex and their rivals, so be sure to check them out in order to boost the excitement you experience when watching the champions in action.
England Returnees Struggle
There was a great deal of excitement among fans as they geared up to watch some big names return to action in the second round of fixtures. Most overseas superstars had their contracts postponed or terminated due to the pandemic, so returning England stars were poised to become the main attractions. Yet it was a return to forget for many titans of the game. Jonny Bairstow limped to just five runs on his return to Yorkshire colours as his side took on Nottinghamshire, while Dawid Malan also struggled. Somerset batsman Tom Banton vacated the England bio-secure bubble to represent his county, but he hit an underwhelming 18 in his first innings. There is still plenty of time to respond - Bairstow managed 75 in his second innings - but competition for places in the England team is fierce.
Several young guns and fringe players are making a compelling case for a call-up. Phil Salt and Ollie Robinson were both superb in Sussex’s match against Hampshire, and Robinson was rewarded with an invitation to join up with the England squad ahead of the second Test against Pakistan at The Ageas Bowl. You can also check out some exciting cricket spread betting and cricket odds on that Test. Kent duo Jordan Cox and Jack Leaning then both hit double centuries to break the record partnership tally in Kent’s first innings rout of Sussex, and Cox looks like he could nail down a place in the England team in future.
The counties were warned that returning to red-ball cricket without much preparation would leave players at risk of injury. We have already seen a few players limping off in the early weeks of the tournament. Liam Dawson will miss the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, while Hampshire teammate Ryan Stevenson was stretchered off. Experienced seamer Chris Wright went down with an injury in Leicester’s clash with Derbyshire, and several players have picked up knocks in training. Injuries are part and parcel of the game, and there is nothing yet to suggest that there has been an abnormal amount of injuries, but counties will need to rotate their line-ups in order to protect players in these hot, dry conditions.