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Who to support at Vitality Blast Finals Day if you're a neutral

If your favourite team hasn't made it to Finals Day, we've got you covered for choosing who to support.

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Who to support at Vitality Blast Finals Day if you're a neutral

James Vince, Lewis Gregory, Sam Billings and Luke Wright will lead their teams at Vitality Blast Finals Day

Do you love the Vitality Blast but your favourite team hasn’t made it to Finals Day?

Do you live north of London?

If so, chances are you’ll be looking for a team to follow on Saturday, so here’s a guide to who you support if you’re a neutral.

If you love…

Big hitting

You don’t reach Finals Day without being able to score, so all of the four remaining teams have their own big hitters.

Daniel Bell-Drummond and Zak Crawley can be destructive at the top of the Kent Spitfires lineup, with the likes of Sam Billings, Jordan Cox and Joe Denly coming in after them.

Australian D’Arcy Short has helped propel the Hampshire Hawks to Finals Day but isn’t available for the Hawks this weekend. Skipper James Vince is always a threat, while youngster Tom Prest was the star man in their quarter-final win over the Notts Outlaws and has had more white-ball experience playing for England U19s in recent weeks.

Sussex Sharks are not short of big hitters, with Phil Salt opening up with Luke Wright and Delray Rawlins, Ravi Bopara and David Wiese among the options to complete the top order.

But Somerset probably take the win in this category, with Tom Banton, Will Smeed and Tom Lammonby among their star talents, while the likes of Tom Abell, James Hildreth and Lewis Goldsworthy are underrated thrashers. Captain Lewis Gregory is one of the best finishers in the game when on form, but has been out recently with injury.

Verdict: Cheer for Somerset

Will Smeed has been in great form with the bat this summer

Will Smeed has been in great form with the bat this summer

T20 specialists 

There’s not much of a debate for this category: it’s got to be the Sussex Sharks.

At the top, Salt and Wright are two of the most destructive openers on the domestic circuit. The latter is a certified Blast legend with 4,858 runs in the competition’s history – 500 more than anyone else.

Chris Jordan is one of England’s premier white-ball all-rounders, who, along with Salt, will be looking to end his spell with the Sharks with a trophy.

Tymal Mills is probably the best death bowler on the circuit and has earned a call-up to the England squad for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Fellow left-armer George Garton has gained an IPL contract after his impressive stint in The Hundred.

Ravi Bopara has a bag of tricks in his locker when bowling and 17-year-old Archie Lenham has taken the competition by storm with his leg spinners.

They even had superstar Rashid Khan to help them qualify for Finals Day, but the spinner misses out as he quarantines ahead of the IPL’s return.

Verdict: No question – it’s Sussex Sharks

George Garton is one of a number of white-ball experts in Sussex's lineup

George Garton is one of a number of white-ball experts in Sussex's lineup

Spin kings

Spinners, and especially leg spinners, are arguably the most sought-after commodity in T20 cricket.

Kent will be without a standout spinner, with Afghanistan star Qais Ahmad helping propel the Spitfires to Finals Day but will miss the day itself. Update: reports have it that Qais will be available after all, which could be a game changer for the Spitfires.

Denly can provide some leggies and the wiliness of veteran Darren Stevens is probably used to similar effect.

Had Rashid Khan been available then the Sussex Sharks would have won this category without question. Archie Lenham has performed incredibly well so far, considering he’s only just turned 17, while Will Beer provides some good experience.

Somerset have three frontline spinners to choose from in T20 specialists Max Waller and Roelof van Der Merwe, along with England international Jack Leach. It’s bizarre to think that Leach had never played a first-team T20 match before this summer, but has taken five wickets in his two matches.

The strength of Somerset’s pace attack means they often only play one main spinner, though, with Lewis Goldsworthy providing support with his left-arm spinners.

Hampshire Hawks are the team to look out for here, though, with Mason Crane and Liam Dawson likely to play a key part in their team’s success.

Crane took 13 wickets in the group stage, while Dawson’s three wickets in the quarter-final won him the player-of-the-match.

Verdict: For the fact that Hampshire will almost certainly pick both their star spinners, they edge Somerset here, though if Qais Ahmad plays for Kent then they'll snatch this prize.

Mason Crane is part of Hampshire Hawks' dangerous spin attack

Mason Crane is part of Hampshire Hawks' dangerous spin attack

Pace attack 

Time to sit on the fence a bit here because there are a couple of good options to choose from. All four teams have some solid pacemen, but Somerset and Sussex Sharks are the ones that really stand out.

Somerset’s pace attack has been pretty fearsome for the past couple of years across all formats of the game led by England international Craig Overton.

Marchant de Lange has been on fire all summer with the white ball, taking 17 wickets in the Blast so far. Overton has taken 12 wickets and been incredibly miserly, conceding just seven runs per over on average, with skipper Lewis Gregory also claiming 12 scalps.

Then there’s Josh Davey, who’s had a couple of economy issues this campaign and veteran Jack Brooks, who’s taken eight wickets in nine matches.

Sussex, meanwhile, have their bevy of white-ball specialists, all of who have kept their economy rate below eight runs per over thus far in the campaign.

Tymal Mills is the key man in the death overs and has picked up 14 wickets in his eight games so far. George Garton has nine wickets despite having only played six games, while Chris Jordan has picked up seven in seven matches.

David Wiese has been a consistent performer, taking 11 wickets at an average of 16.66, while Ravi Bopara has seven scalps and has one of the best economy rates in the tournament.

Verdict: Sussex may edge it due to the specialist nature of their attack, but Somerset are right there with them. See if you can find a half-and-half scarf.

Craig Overton leads a formidable Somerset pace attack

Craig Overton leads a formidable Somerset pace attack

Underrated players

If you love cheering for the underdogs then Kent Spitfires are possibly the team for you.

In Matt Milne and Fred Klaassen they have a good pace duo, who may be quite expensive but take a stack of wickets – 32 between them so far.

They’ve also got a batting lineup capable of big things if they all fire at the same time. Daniel Bell-Drummond is a perennial run-scorer who averages over 30 in T20 cricket and is opening with Zak Crawley, who averages a couple more than his partner in his short career so far.

Joe Denly can either hold or hit out, depending on the situation, while young Jordan Cox averages over 50 this campaign batting in the lower middle order. Cox is a highlight-reel fielder in the Jonny Bairstow mould – a wicketkeeper by trade but exceptional while patrolling the square boundaries in white-ball cricket.

Captain Sam Billings has played 32 IT20s for England but always seems to be battling for a place in the team, and even in the squad sometimes. If his eye is in, then he’ll be a handful at Edgbaston.

And then there’s county cricket legend Darren Stevens, who’s still foxing batsman at the tender age of 45 and can hit the ball out of the ground when called upon as well.

They’ve had a pretty average year in the Championship and Royal London Cup, so the chance to win their first silverware since 2007 would be a good end to the season.

Verdict: Get behind the Spitfires

Jordan Cox and Sam Billings could play big roles for Kent Spitfires at Finals Day

Jordan Cox and Sam Billings could play big roles for Kent Spitfires at Finals Day

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