By Matt Somerford
Derbyshire Falcons will be out to end an unwanted record when they host Gloucestershire in their final Royal London One-Day Cup group game at the 3aaa County Ground.
The Falcons have not qualified for the knockout stage of a limited-overs competition since 2005, but can put that right today against their already-qualified visitors.
Derbyshire must beat Gloucestershire and then also hope Leicestershire Foxes trip up at last-placed Lancashire Lightning to send them through.
The hosts have named an unchanged line-up from the squad that split their away trips to Northants Steelbacks and Yorkshire Vikings last week.
Gloucestershire - who do still have the incentive of pinning down a home quarter-final - are boosted by the return of skipper Michael Klinger from a neck problem.
The Australian is determined to bring a quarter-final to Bristol and a win over Derbyshire, in front of the Sky Sports cameras, would do just that should Yorkshire or Essex Eagles slip up.
“It’s great to be in the quarter-finals and we will be doing all we can to secure a home tie because that would mean a big day for the club and the supporters,” Klingers told the club’s website.
“There haven’t been enough of those in recent years and it would be fantastic to play on our own ground in front of a large crowd.”
Essex Eagles head into their final match weakened by injury and up against a Northants Steelbacks side who could yet sneak into the last eight themselves.
The Eagles will be without Ryan ten Doeschate (shoulder), Graham Napier (calf) and Jesse Ryder (hamstring) although they are due to return for the quarter-finals.
David Masters and Reece Topley return after missing the LV= County Championship win over Glamorgan at Swansea while 23-year-old left-hander Nick Browne could make his first List A appearance after being named in their 13-man squad.
“It would be nice to get a quarter-final tie at Chelmsford but Northants have a chance to qualify themselves,” Eagles head coach Paul Grayson said.
“We are in good form and want to keep that going. We’ve played some good cricket in this competition so far and beaten some big teams.”
The Steelbacks welcome back veteran all-rounder Andrew Hall and James Middlebrook for a game they must win, and hope Leicestershire and Derbyshire lose, to ensure they go through.
Yorkshire Vikings, who have added Jonny Bairstow to their squad, currently head the table but know anything but a win away to Hampshire could see them slip down to third place in Group A.
Tim Bresnan admits a home last-eight tie would be good for the club, but believes they can win anywhere following a campaign that has seen three of their five wins coming away from Headingley.
“The one-day trophy is massive for us, but I don’t think we’re particularly that fussed where we play our quarter-final,” Bresnan said.
“It would obviously be massive for the club to get a home one for the attendance and things, but from a cricket point of view we’d back our skills to go anywhere and beat anyone. That should be good enough for us to advance.”
Leicestershire Foxes do not know what to expect from Lancashire Lightning when they travel to Emirates Old Trafford.
Victory will guarantee the Foxes an away quarter-final against Group B winners Notts Outlaws at Trent Bridge.
But with the Lightning’s focus likely to be on their NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day trip at the weekend, senior coach Ben Smith is unsure what Lancashire’s approach night be.
“It’s actually more like a quarter-final Thursday when you know that three games are being played on the same day and all three of us could potentially go through,” he told BBC Radio Leicester.
“We’re not sure how Lancashire will play the game because they may try to get their T20 players into a game situation before Saturday, or maybe they’ll rest a few, or maybe they’ll rest them all.
"The England players are back for T20 Finals Day but I wouldn’t have thought they would be involved in RL50 – but you never know! Whoever Lancashire put out will be a strong side, that’s for sure."