WORCESTERSHIRE Rapids go in search of their first appearance at Finals Day in the Vitality Blast this weekend when they tackle Gloucestershire at New Road in the quarter-finals.
The Rapids will be hoping to end their quarter-final hoodoo, having fallen at the last eight stage on three previous occasions, when they welcome the West Country outfit on Saturday (3pm start)
Kevin Sharp’s side completed a splendid double in topping the North Group in both the Royal London One-Day Cup and Vitality Blast this summer, 12 months on from coming top of the North Group in the One-Day Cup.
Now the Rapids will be striving to reach the celebration of cricket at Edgbaston on September 15 against a Gloucestershire outfit who limped over the line in qualifying for the knock out stages of the T20 competition.
CEO Matt Rawnsley praised the efforts of the Rapids players and coaching staff in white ball cricket this summer.
“To finish top of the group in both one-day competitions this season is a great achievement. But the whole group is aware that getting to the final, and winning the final is the goal as it was in the Royal London 50-over competition,” he said.
“Throughout this season, I’ve heard us be referenced to as a ‘smaller’ county, that we ‘punch above our weight’.
“Frankly, we and others need to see us for what we are, which is one of the best one-day sides in the country. And I expect that we continue to show that on Saturday, and at Edgbaston in September.
“While Gloucestershire – and any side that reaches the knockout stages – deserve our respect, they will come to Blackfinch New Road on Saturday knowing that they need to have their ‘A’ game on the day, anything less won’t be good enough against us.
“The size of our ground, the capacity within it and whether or not we host men’s international cricket is frankly irrelevant.”
County chiefs are hopeful of extending the loan period of Nottinghamshire paceman Luke Wood for the remainder of the Vitality Blast.
The 23-year-old has been a regular member of the Rapids side, playing all 11 group matches for which he has been available although he could not play in the two games with his parent club.
Head coach Sharp is optimistic Wood can be part of the Rapids squad for the quarter-final with Gloucestershire plus, potentially, finals day.
Sharp said: “We are negotiating with Nottinghamshire at the moment and hopefully Luke will be able to extend his loan so he can play in the T20 competition.
“There doesn’t seem to be much of an issue in terms of that happening although obviously he would not be able to play against Nottinghamshire should that scenario arise.”