England teammates are relishing the prospect of going head-to head in a big week of Royal London One-Day Cup and NatWest T20 Blast fixtures as white-ball cricket takes centre stage.
All 18 of the players selected for the forthcoming Royal London One-Day Series and NatWest IT20 against Sri Lanka will have the chance to prepare for their counties as the battle for quarter-final places in both competitions intensifies.
The England Blast showdowns start on Thursday night, when the two newcomers to the T20 squad, Dawid Malan and Tymal Mills, face off at Lord’s in a South Group match between Middlesex and Sussex Sharks. That will give both players the chance to impress England’s white-ball captain Eoin Morgan, who will be joined in Malan’s Middlesex team by Steven Finn, while Chris Jordan will join Mills in the Sharks attack.
Jos Buttler will also be in action on Thursday night, for Lancashire Lightning against Northants Steelbacks at Emirates Old Trafford – and the wicketkeeper is also available for a Royal London One-Day Cup match against Yorkshire Vikings on Wednesday.
But it is Friday night when the Blast will be awash with England players.
Sky’s cameras will be at the Kia Oval as Malan, Morgan and Finn cross the Thames for the eagerly-awaited London derby against a Surrey team including Jason Roy.
Alex Hales will face four members of England’s World T20 final team – Joe Root, Adil Rashid, David Willey and Liam Plunkett – as well as Jonny Bairstow, who has been recalled to the one-day and T20 squads, in a heavyweight clash between Notts Outaws and Yorkshire Vikings at Headingley. Willey, Rashid and Plunkett will also be available to face Buttler in the Roses battle on Wednesday, and Willey has also been released for Yorkshire’s Blast game against Derbyshire Falcons on Sunday afternoon to give him as much cricket as possible following his recent pectoral injury.
Mills and Jordan will clash with James Vince and Liam Dawson in another South Group derby between Sussex and Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl – with Vince also made available to resume the Hampshire captaincy in their Royal London One-Day Cup match against Surrey on Wednesday,
Chris Woakes is available to boost Birmingham Bears at Derbyshire Falcons on Friday night, Sam Billings will continue for Kent Spitfires at Glamorgan, and Moeen Ali joins the North Group leaders Worcestershire Rapids at Leicestershire Foxes.
Moeen and Hales have also been cleared to play in Saturday afternoon’s televised match between the Rapids and the Outlaws at New Road before joining the rest of the one-day squad in Nottingham where preparations will begin on Sunday for the first Royal London ODI at Trent Bridge on Tuesday.
Alastair Cook, Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad will all take a break until returning to red-ball action in the Specsavers County Championship in early July. That means Anderson and Broad will face each other for the second time this season when Nottinghamshire play Lancashire at Trent Bridge from July 3, giving Broad the chance of revenge after Anderson helped Lancashire to victory at Emirates Old Trafford in April.
England’s head coach Trevor Bayliss explained: “The guys are all really keen to play for their counties whenever possible, and we’re very happy with that. There should be some great games over the next few days which is a good way for them to prepare for our switch to white-ball cricket against Sri Lanka.”
Kent and England’s Sam Billings will line up for his county against Glamorgan in the NatWest T20 Blast tonight, with play due to get underway at 6.30pm at The SSE SWALEC.