Worcestershire Rapids will launch their bid for NatWest T20 Blast glory in 2018 with two clashes in the space of 24 hours – including a mouth-watering home derby with Birmingham Bears.
Skipper Joe Leach’s side will open the campaign on Thursday, July 5 with a trip to face Lancashire Lightning at Emirates Old Trafford.
Then on the following day (Friday, July 6) they will take on the Bears for the Norman Gifford Trophy at Blackfinch New Road in the first home fixture.
The ‘house full’ signs are always guaranteed for that encounter and the Rapids currently hold the trophy after defeating The Bears at Edgbaston.
It was part of a notable away double achieved by the Rapids last summer in defeating both eventual T20 Blast finalists in The Bears and Notts Outlaws at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge respectively.
Three of the Rapids seven T20 Blast matches at Blackfinch New Road will be staged on a Friday evening, three on a Sunday afternoon and one on a Thursday.
Skipper Leach said: The first home game against the Bears is always a highlight. It is always noisy and quite an atmosphere – the sort of thing players relish – and it’s the same when we go to Edgbaston.
“We will be looking to start the home campaign with a win and kick on from there, try and get on a run and keep it going which was something we didn’t manage to do last year.
“With the way the competition is set-up, if you can put together two or three weeks good cricket, you are probably going to qualify for the knockout stages and we need to make sure we do that.
“We did well last summer in the County Championship and One-Day Cup. Probably the last couple of years, we’ve not done ourselves justice in T20 but there is ability in the side to make an impact.
“It is something we will be eager to put right next year, that’s for sure.”
RAPIDS T20 BLAST FIXTURES 2018
July 5 – Lancashire Lightning (Emirates Old Trafford)
July 6 – Birmingham Bears (Blackfinch New Road)
July 8 – Derbyshire Falcons (3aaa County Ground)
July 13 – Northamptonshire Steelbacks (Blackfinch New Road)
July 15 – Yorkshire Vikings (Blackfinch New Road)
July 20 – Durham Jets (Emirates Riverside)
July 27 – Northamptonshire Steelbacks (Northampton)
July 29 – Lancashire Lightning (Blackfinch New Road)
August 3 – Durham Jets (Blackfinch New Road)
August 4 – Notts Outlaws (Trent Bridge)
August 9 – Derbyshire Falcons (Blackfinch New Road)
August 10 – Leicestershire Foxes (Fischer County Ground)
August 12 – Notts Outlaws (Blackfinch New Road)
August 17 – Birmingham Bears (Edgbaston)