Essex v Yorkshire
Essex face Yorkshire under lights on Thursday in front of the Sky Sports cameras for the right for a spot in the Royal London One-Day Cup semi-final against Hampshire.
The hosts go into the fixture having finished second in the South Group, and strengthen their batting ranks with the inclusion of England Test opener Alastair Cook.
They are without captain Ryan ten Doeschate, though, who is suspended for the next two matches after an incident in the club’s recent County Championship contest.
“We had been a bit inconsistent earlier on in the competition but those last three matches have seen us really get our act together,” said Eagles head coach Anthony McGrath. “The win over Kent was probably the nearest you will get to a perfect performance in one-day cricket.
“Obviously it’s a bitter blow to lose Ryan who has led the side superbly ever since assuming the captaincy. I’m really disappointed for him because I know how passionate he is about leading the side and bringing success to the Club.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Gale has urged his players to attack the eliminator clash against Essex with vigour.
The Vikings will be without their international stars – Jonny Bairstow, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root and Che Pujara – but Gale is taking plenty of confidence into the tie having won their last four North Group matches, three of them in nail-biting fashion.
Yorkshire have reached the knockout stages of the Royal London for five years running, but they have not reached the final in that period.
Gale said: “My message to the lads is ‘We’re massive underdogs going into that’. We’ve had a pretty settled side throughout the tournament, so it isn't ideal. But it’s an opportunity to go there with a lot of freedom and play some positive cricket.
“You could say we’re in the entertainment business, and the last four games have certainly been that. But you get so much confidence out of the close games.”
Notts Outlaws v Kent
Defending champions Notts Outlaws take on Kent at Trent Bridge in the early fixture, and would dearly love the chance of returning to Lord’s for another final.
“We just hope we’ve hit our best form at the right time,” head coach Peter Moores reflected. “Early on we had a few changes, not dissimilar to last year, in that we’ve been trying to find the right balance.
“I give credit to Steven Mullaney as captain - and also to the rest of the players because we have had to adapt quite a bit. Last year we had a strong pace attack, this year we’ve changed it, taking a bit more off the pace. There’s more spin, with Matt Carter coming into the side and we’ve found different ways of doing it.
“But we’ve managed to create pressure on the opposition and have just won three in a row, so we go into this in good form and we’ll go in with confidence but know we’ll have to play well.
Notts will welcome back paceman Jake Ball to their squad after being released by England. Kent have also had their chances boosted ahead of the play-off clash by news that they can now select influential captain Sam Billings, also made available by England.
Kent will be looking to record their 10th List A win on Nottinghamshire soil and will hope to emulate their last visit, in 2015, when they chased down 335 to win by five wickets.
Billings was the Kent hero that day hitting an unbeaten 118 off only 89 balls.
Spitfire's head coach Matt Walker said: “It’s always exciting to travel north in this competition because we don’t often come up against these sides in white-ball cricket nowadays.
“We’ll do our research on them and will go there knowing we’ve had good recent success against them. In many ways, it’ll be nice to pit our wits against some fresh faces.”