By Will Jackson
Riki Wessels is hoping that Notts Outlaws can secure a home quarter-final with victory in tomorrow's crucial game with Warwickshire in the Royal London One-Day Cup at Trent Bridge.
Group B of the competition comes to a conclusion tomorrow, with just Kent Spitfires guaranteed a spot in the quarter-finals, which means the Outlaws could either secure themselves a home tie for the next round or be knocked out. Warwickshire, Durham and the Outlaws are currently tied on nine points apiece, with Somerset lurking nearby on seven.
Wessels, who has been in brilliant form this season, said: “It would be nice to win and get the home quarter-final but if we don’t, it’ll be an achievement in itself to reach the final eight.
“The last game, at Lord’s, showed the depth of the squad we have. It was the first game this year where I haven’t needed to bat.
“It’s been one of those seasons where we were always going to be missing one or two players here and there. It comes at a crucial time in the season for us, losing someone like Alex (Hales), who is probably in the form of his life.”
Hales and Harry Gurney have been selected in the England squad for upcoming Royal London One-Day Internationals against India, but both will be available for this crucial RLODC clash, which comes just days before the NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day - something Warwickshire will be a part of.
Wessels hopes it may be a distraction, saying: “They’re a tough side, but will have a big weekend ahead of them with the T20 Finals Day. Hopefully they’ll be thinking more about that than this match.”
Both sides will be at full-strength for the match at Trent Bridge but, although the Bears are currently sitting in second place, their future in the competition is far from certain.
Warwickshire are currently sit second in the table, having won three games in a row - the most recent being at Glamorgan - but all that hard work could come undone tomorrow, with an exit from the competition on the cards if results conspire against them.
Top-of-the-table Kent Spitfires host the struggling Middlesex Panthers at the Spitfire Ground, and are the only side in the group guaranteed a quarter-finals place following an unbeaten campaign to date.
Coach Jimmy Adams is hoping the interruption of the championship will not cause his side to falter. He said: “It is a completely different format and squad line up so we will be looking to pick up where we left off against Sussex last week.”
Adams also revealed that captain Rob Key and Adam Riley have been included in the squad, saying: “It will be good to have Keysy (Rob Key) back as he is such an experienced player who leads from the front in all ways.”
The Panthers have been in disappointing form throughout the competition and head into the game with nothing to play for, having only secured five points so far in the competition.
Any slim hopes they had of reaching the quarter-finals were shattered when they were thrashed at home by Notts in the previous round of fixtures.
Somerset are the other club who can sneak into the quarter-finals with a victory tomorrow. They travel to the Kia Oval to face a Surrey side that has so far failed to win a single match and will have half an eye on the upcoming Finals Day in the Blast.
A damaging loss to Glamorgan in the previous round of fixtures has put the future of their campaign in doubt, meaning that they need to win the final fixture to force their way through on net run rate.
The final tie of the round sees Sussex Sharks host Glamorgan at the BrightonandHoveJobs.com County Ground in what is effectively a dead rubber.
Both sides are stuck on six points and, with the Outlaws on nine in the last quarter-final spot as it stands, there is no way they can catch them.
The Sharks suffered a heavy defeat to Kent last time out, while Glamorgan came off second best in a rain-affected tie with Warwickshire – with both results killing any hopes of a late dash up the table.
Glamorgan have taken the opportunity to add Will Owen to the squad that lost against the Bears, while Sussex will be without Chris Jordan and Matt Prior.
Royal London One-Day Cup stats:
* Three batsmen have scored 200-plus Royal London One Day Cup 2014 runs at a strike rate above 120 and at an average over 65: Sam Billings, Jesse Ryder and Alex Hales.
* Middlesex have won four and lost 15 of their 19 completed limited overs matches this season (Twenty20 and 50-over cricket combined).
* Sussex have won 16 and lost three of their 19 completed List A games against Glamorgan at Hove.
* Surrey’s victory in the 2011 40-over final was one of three wins in their last 17 completed List A meetings against Somerset.
* Royal London One Day Cup 2014 top run-scorer Jacques Rudolph has hit 688 runs in his last 11 innings in English domestic List A cricket (406 in seven innings this season).
* Peter Trego (1,054 at an average of 65.9 and strike rate of 108.9) is the only player to score more than 1,000 runs in English domestic List A cricket since the start of last season.