Notts Outlaws have been drawn against Essex Eagles in the final quarter-final of this summer’s Friends Life t20 competition, scheduled to take place on Thursday 8 August, at 7:10pm.
After topping the North group with a convincing victory over Lancashire Lightning, batsman Riki Wessels celebrated the manner in which the side progressed.
“It’s great to have a home quarter final, it’s what we were trying to do from the start and we achieved that,” he said.
“We’ve got two wins over Lancashire who are going through to the quarter-finals as well, so that’s always nice.”
The Outlaws’ progression into the knockout stages ended strongly, but wobbled earlier in the week with the visit of Derbyshire Falcons in a rain-affected tie that was reduced to a nine-over shootout.
“It’s interesting with t20 games, if there are rain breaks they instantly become a lot harder to win,” said Wessels.
“We saw that with Derbyshire, but it’s part and parcel of the game and the end result is the most important thing, and we’ve gone through.”
Since his return from injury, Wessels has slotted back into the Outlaws batting order nicely. After entering at number six against Lancashire, Wessels formed a handy partnership with Chris Read worth 43 to Notts’ total of 194.
“That was our original game plan, for me to bat at the top of the order in the power play, there to clear the ropes if Lumby or Alex went out early,” said Wessels.
“Hockey is really useful for batting in the summer, it helps you to get lower and sweep balls more fluently" Riki Wessels.
“If they got through the first six overs then I’d come in further down the order, like in the Durham game where I was padded up to go in at three but we didn’t lose a wicket until the seventh over, so I had to bide my time.
“As it happened, I didn’t come in until the end, and was there to clear the ropes once more.
“The bowlers are trying different things toward the end of the innings, they throw in more Yorkers and things which gave myself and Ready a bit more of a chance.”
For many, t20 cricket is simple, simply clearing the ropes with the biggest shots as often as possible. However, Wessels’ partnership alongside Read was a clever one, taking runs where available and punishing wayward deliveries with apparent ease.
“We both play hockey in the winter,” he said.
“It’s really useful for batting in the summer, it helps you to get lower and sweep balls more fluently.
“The shots were very different to the ones you’d see played by opening batsmen in the powerplay, when bowlers are concentrating on good line and length with the harder ball.”
Joining Notts and Essex in the knockout stages are Hampshire, Surrey, Somerset, Durham, Lancashire and, most interestingly for Wessels, the Northants Steelbacks, who topped their group after a shaky start.
“For Graeme White and myself its nice to see Northants in the final eight, though we’d prefer to get one up on them,” he said.
“You get goose bumps, hairs rising on the back of your neck," Wessels on quarter-finals at Trent Bridge
“They started poorly, but Whitey went there and took his 4-14, then came back and has worked his way into our side and has excelled here too.
“I think they’re very different to when we used to play down there, but we have a lot of friends still at Northants and it’s good to see their progression.”
With the Outlaws’ clash against the Essex Eagles the final quarter final to be played, all eyes will be on Trent Bridge to see who will be the last side to book their place at finals day at Edgbaston on August 17.
“When you get down to the quarter-finals you’re looking at the 8 best sides in the country,” he said.
“We will just do what we need to do and hopefully our skills and execution on that day will be better than the opposition.”
“We all talk about how wonderful it is to play at Trent Bridge, in this ground in this city, and we know what we’re going to get here,” added Wessels.
“If you throw the crowd in on top of that, it makes for a wonderful setting for a game of cricket.
“It got to a point last year in the quarter-final, towards the back end of the game and the crowd got really loud, got back behind us,” he added.
“You get goose bumps, hairs rising on the back of your neck. Let’s hope we can get through this, and go one further this year.”
Friends Life t20 Quarter-Final Ticket information
Notts Outlaws v Essex Eagles, Thursday 8 August, 7.10pm CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS
Buy before 4.30pm on Wednesday 7 August:
Members - Adults £15 / Under 16s £8 / Over 65s £8
Non-members - Adults £17 / Under 16s £9 / Over 65s £9 / families (2+2) £43
On the day:
Adults £20 / Over 65s £20 / Under 16s £10 / Families (2+2) £50