We may be in the middle of an Ashes Series, but the county fixtures continue this weekend with the third round of the Nat West County T20 competition. It seems that none of the England contracted players will be in action for their counties, and several Academy players will also be missing as they line-up for the EWA in a two day warm-up game against Australia at Loughborough this weekend.
This weekend's groupings are:-
Yorkshire, Somerset and Kent at Harrogate CC
Notts, Ireland and Sussex at Welbeck CC
Middlesex, Surrey and Berkshire at Merchant Taylors' School
Wales, Staffs and Derbyshire at Pontarddulais CC
Lancs, Netherlands and Cheshire at Glossop CC
Warwickshire, Essex and Durham at Knowle & Dorridge CC
Division One is led by unbeaten Kent at the moment with Yorkshire and Sussex hard on their heels. Kent will be without six frontline players, which should give Yorkshire and Somerset an opportunity. But Yorkshire are themselves without Brunt, Hazell and Winfield and Somerset will be missing Shrubsole, and South African Lizelle Lee, who has had to return to South Africa due to a serious shoulder injury. Yorkshire will be very keen to pick up two more wins, inflicting a defeat on Kent on the way, which would take them to the top of the league.
In Nottinghamshire Sussex will hope to come away with two victories in their games against Notts and Ireland. Again the two English counties will be missing some key players, but Sussex's strength in depth could see them through if they can put some runs on the board.
The tightest games are likely to be at Merchant Taylors' School, where Middlesex, Surrey and Berkshire clash. Middlesex have struggled of late, whereas Berkshire are on a bit of a roll. Surrey might trouble them both, so your guess is as good as mine on these three fixtures.
In Division Two Lancashire, who are struggling in Div 1 of the County Championship are currently unbeaten in Div 2 T20 games. This Sunday they take on second placed Netherlands and mid-table Cheshire in what looks like the match-up of the weekend. It would not surprise me for honours to be even at the end of the day.
Staffs, who are unbeaten in Div 2 of the County Championship have yet to hit their straps in the T20 competition, with losses to Netherlands and Warwickshire in their first four games. They will be keen to add two more wins this Sunday when they meet Derbyshire and Wales, who are currently the bottom two in Div 2 of the T20.
Mid-tabled Warwickshire, Essex and Durham meet each other at the quaintly named Knowle & Dorridge CC in the West Midlands. Two wins for either Warwickshire or Durham could put them in with a shout of promotion to Div 1 next season, with just two more games to come after this weekend. Remember the top two teams in Div 2 will be promoted to Div 1 next year. There are no play-offs, so there is plenty to play for.