By Callum Dent
England duo Chris Woakes and Tim Bresnan are both available for tomorrow night’s NatWest T20 Blast North Group fixture between Birmingham Bears and Yorkshire Vikings at Edgbaston.
The ECB has released the pair for Blast action after missing out on selection for England’s first of five Royal London one-day internationals against Sri Lanka.
The Bears, yet to play in the sprint format this term, are without batsman Ian Bell, all-rounder Rikki Clarke and Pakistan international Shoaib Malik, who is set to be available for next week's clash with the Durham Jets.
Bresnan is included in a 14-man Yorkshire squad that also features spinner Azeem Rafiq, batsman Jack Leaning and all-rounder Oliver Robinson, with Joe Root and Gary Ballance missing out due to their England commitments.
Vikings coach Jason Gillespie is hoping his young side can bounce back from last week’s defeat to defending champions Northants Steelbacks, saying: “It was disappointing to lose the opening game of the season against Northamptonshire last week. They are are a good outfit and you can see why they were champions.
“We just need to improve and build some momentum. We also want to put in a performance in front of the Sky cameras. I know the players will respond.”
Alex Hales will play against his former employers when Notts Outlaws face Worcestershire Rapids at Trent Bridge.
The England T20 batsman, who hit 66 in the defeat to Sri Lanka at the Kia Oval on Tuesday night, played one LV= County Championship match during a short loan spell at New Road.
However, the hosts will have to make do without the services of England left-arm seamer Harry Gurney and the injured Jake Ball.
All-rounder Steve Mullaney is wary of Rapids spin duo Moeen Ali and Saeed Ajmal.
He told the club’s official website: “We’ve made a fantastic start but that’s all it is and we’ve shifted our focus to Worcestershire who pose a very credible threat.
“Moeen Ali is in good form and has had some recognition with England and he’ll be a key player for us to get out early and nudge his overs around the park.
“Saeed Ajmal’s ability demands respect and we need to research his performances in this format and make our own plans to combat his ability.”
Northants Steelbacks will attempt to continue their perfect start to the defence of their Twenty20 trophy by welcoming Leicestershire Foxes to Wantage Road.
Ben Duckett, with an unbeaten 39, was the star as Kyle Coetzer’s outfit kicked off their campaign with a thrilling three-wicket win at Headingley last Friday.
Ramnaresh Sarwan could make his first T20 start of the season for the Foxes, who beat the Derbyshire Falcons courtesy of a stunning knock from New Zealander Scott Styris.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul will not play for the Falcons when Lancashire Lightning visit the 3aaa County Ground.
The West Indian has linked up with his national squad for the series against New Zealand, his absence handing Tony Palladino a recall.
The Lightning will be without England duo Jos Buttler and James Anderson.
NatWest T20 Blast facts
- Nottinghamshire have won all four of their Twenty20 matches against Worcestershire, twice batting first and twice batting second.
- Warwickshire have won all three of their completed Twenty20 matches against Yorkshire, the most recent of which came in June 2011.
- Lancashire have won 12 and lost four of their 17 completed Twenty20 matches against Durham, with one tie, in 2012.
- Northamptonshire have won both of their previous Twenty20 away matches against Derbyshire, in 2010 and 2011.