Metro Bank One Day Cup: Group A Preview


Essex get their 2023 Metro Bank One Day Cup campaign under way with a trip to Sedbergh to face Lancashire at the beginning of August.

In the ensuing three weeks, Anthony McGrath’s men will host Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Middlesex, and Surrey at Chelmsford, alongside also travelling to Hampshire, Leicestershire, and Kent.

Tickets are available for the competition, set during the school summer holidays, with tickets costing just £5 for Juniors and £16 for adults.


With a little over a month until that tournament begins, here’s a look at how the eight teams that will join Essex in Group A of the competition are shaping up.


2022 captain: Tom Westley
2022 finish: 6th in group
2022 leading run-scorer: Grant Roelofsen (355)
2022 leading wicket-taker: Shane Snater (14)
Knockout stage appearances: 6 (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021)
Titles: 0
Absentees due to The Hundred: Dan Lawrence, Adam Rossington, Michael Pepper, Matt Critchley (London Spirit), Paul Walter (Manchester Originals), Sam Cook (Trent Rockets)

The big question: Can Essex be more consistent? They won three matches last season in a row, and all by huge margins, but two pairs of defeats either side of that run undermined a push for the knockout stages. However, two of those losses did come by the narrow margin of three wickets as well, so it feels like the potential for a more successful campaign is not at all far off.

Key players: Simon Harmer was missed in last year’s tournament, but this time around he should be fully available, adding international-level quality to the Essex line-up. At the top of the order, Feroze Khushi and Tom Westley had productive 2022 seasons, both scoring north of 300 runs, and given the latter’s red-ball form so far this season, hopes are high that he in particular can replicate that.

Wildcard watch: Robin Das has been in good form in the T20 Blast this term, striking 266 runs with two fifties, at a strike rate above 150. He will add firepower to the Essex middle order, and a useful finisher is a valuable role in one-day cricket.

Final thought: After the emergence of the next rank of Eagles stars in 2023, how they have developed over the past year with more first team exposure will be key. With Simon Harmer once again available for this year’s tournament after international commitments kept him out of last year’s campaign, the youngsters will have a greater wealth of experience to look up to, which can only bode well.

Essex Eagles vs Kent Spitfires, Royal London One-Day Cup, Cricket, The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford, Essex, United Kingdom - 11 Aug 2022


2022 captain: Nick Gubbins
2022 finish: Semi-finalists
2022 leading run-scorer: Tom Prest (402)
2022 leading wicket-taker: John Turner (20)
Knockout stage appearances: 4 (2015, 2018, 2019, 2022)
Titles: 1 (2018)
Absentees due to The Hundred: Liam Dawson, Mason Crane, Chris Wood (London Spirit), Ross Whiteley (Oval Invincibles), Brad Wheal, John Turner (Trent Rockets), James Vince, James Fuller, Joe Weatherley (Southern Brave)

The big question: Can Hampshire back up their exceptionally strong showing last time out with a better performance in the knockout stages? After winning seven of their eight group games, the Ageas Bowl outfit breezed through to the semi-finals, but found themselves undone by a Darren Stevens-inspired Kent at home. The younger players in their squad are a year older and wiser on the back of that disappointment last summer, and hopes should be high of an ability to go further this time around.

Key players: Tom Prest will be looking to back up a sterling 402 runs last season, and Toby Albert is another youngster who made hay with the bat in last season’s competition. Meanwhile, with ball in hand, Scott Currie is a burgeoning talent who took 18 wickets in last season’s competition, second only to Hundred-bound John Turner and just one ahead of another youngster, Jack Campbell. The latter is a left-armer, which is always a useful point of difference in any bowling attack.

Wildcard watch: Hampshire had a remarkably settled squad in last season’s competition, using just 13 players across their nine games, so there are not many wildcards in sight. That said, keep watching out for Fletcha Middleton, a young local batter whose assured showings in this year’s County Championship so far suggest he might be in for a profitable One-Day Cup campaign.

Final thought: Hampshire undoubtedly have a core of quality talent surrounded by up-and-coming youngsters, which is a very positive formula to have. Their problem will be the mental block – can they find it in themselves to repeat last year’s feats after falling so agonisingly short of making it to the final?

Hampshire v Kent Spitfires - Royal London Cup Semi Final

Kent Spitfires

2022 captain: Joe Denly
2022 finish: Winners
2022 leading run-scorer: Ollie Robinson (534)
2022 leading wicket-taker: Hamidullah Qadri (15)
Knockout stage appearances: 4 (2015, 2016, 2018, 2022)
Titles: 1 (2022)
Absentees due to The Hundred: Zak Crawley, Daniel Bell-Drummond (London Spirit), Sam Billings, Jordan Cox, Tawanda Muyeye (Oval Invincibles), Fred Klaassen (Manchester Originals)

The big question: Might Kent be able to go back-to-back? Last season’s winners did it the hard way, winning just two of their first five matches prior to going on a perfect run in their next five that took them all the way to the trophy. However, the loss of both last season’s leading run-scorer Ollie Robinson and the mountains of experience brought by the now-retired Darren Stevens will make things a little more difficult for them.

Key players: All-rounder Joey Evison played a match-winning role in the final at his former home of Trent Bridge last season. That showing backed up an impressive debut campaign in Canterbury that saw him hit 330 runs and take seven wickets, and he has the ability to make a similar impact this time around. Meanwhile, amongst players in the One-Day Cup, Joe Denly possesses the rare virtue of international experience, and his undoubted quality with the bat could have a real impact in Robinson’s absence too.

Wildcard watch: Young bowler Nathan Gilchrist picked up 14 wickets in last season’s successful campaign, and hopes will be high that he can play with the same maturity beyond his years again this time around. He is a strike bowler, willing to trade in a higher-than-average economy rate in exchange for a plentiful haul of wickets, but he is carrying out that balance with good skill so far in his career, possessing a List A average of 29.04, and will be hoping to kick on even further now he is another year older.

Final thought: Kent face an uphill battle to retain their trophy after the impactful losses of Robinson and Stevens, though there is still hope if the likes of Denly and Evison have good tournaments. They must have a stronger start than they did last season as well, but if they can do that, the possibility of another good showing is there.

Kent Spitfires v Lancashire - Royal London Cup Final


2022 captain: Keaton Jennings
2022 finish: Runners-up
2022 leading run-scorer: Keaton Jennings (390)
2022 leading wicket-taker: Liam Hurt (15)
Knockout stage appearances: 2 (2019, 2022)
Titles: 0
Absentees due to The Hundred: Jos Buttler, Phil Salt, Tom Hartley, Richard Gleeson (Manchester Originals), Saqib Mahmood (Oval Invincibles), Luke Wood (Trent Rockets), Liam Livingstone (Birmingham Phoenix), Luke Wells (Welsh Fire)

The big question: Will Lancashire be able to go one step further than last season? They will have the opportunity for revenge on Kent, their conquerors in the final last season, in this year’s group stages, when they meet in Blackpool, but personal scores aside, the Red Rose will be looking for another strong showing, and they should have the quality to achieve it.

Key players: The news that his side have the chance for revenge against Kent in his home town will be music to the ears of Blackpool-born Steven Croft, a dyed-in-the-wool Lancastrian who has played for his home county since 2005, during which time he has hit over 18,000 runs for the first team and taken just under 200 wickets across all formats. Also important will be Danny Lamb – brother of England international Emma – who had a good tournament last time out and should have a role to play with the ball before he leaves for Sussex at the end of the season.

Wildcard watch: George Bell is an exciting prospect for Lancashire fans. The 21-year-old is averaging 109 in this season’s Second XI T20 at a strike rate of more than 194, but he has also made an impression in the first team as well, including two County Championship fifties so far this season.

Final thought: Lancashire look as strong as ever. They may have lost their leading wicket-taker from last season, Liam Hurt, but that was through choice rather than necessity, as their decision to release him shows the strength in depth they possess. This is naturally a tough group, but Lancashire should be right in the mix at the top end of it.

Kent Spitfires v Lancashire - Royal London Cup Final

Leicestershire Foxes

2022 captain: Lewis Hill
2022 finish: Quarter-finals
2022 leading run-scorer: Wiaan Mulder (533)
2022 leading wicket-taker: Beuran Hendricks (17)
Knockout stage appearances: 1 (2022)
Titles: 0
Absentees due to The Hundred: Callum Parkinson (Northern Superchargers), Rehan Ahmed (Southern Brave)

The big question: Will Leicestershire be able to put their recent off-field issues aside to be competitive? The Foxes reached the knockout stages last season, losing to eventual winners Kent, but a recent storm within the club appears to have hit its apex with the departure of some key players and coaching staff.

Key players: The signing of Sol Budinger from Nottinghamshire was a real statement of intent, and in return for putting their faith in him, Leicestershire have received a young, aggressive batter who has the ability to influence matches at this level. The return of overseas player Wiaan Mulder is a boost too for the East Midlands outfit, with the South African having hit 533 runs at an average of almost 89 in last season’s competition.

Wildcard watch: Seamer Michael Finan is a late bloomer, having only made his List A and first-class debuts at the age of 27, but has already taken 21 wickets at 34.33 in the latter format. He can be a fraction expensive, but his wicket-taking ability is not in doubt, and if he can tidy up his economy rate, Leicestershire have in their ranks a bowler of quality.

Final thought: The beginning of the One-Day Cup is an opportunity for Leicestershire to have a fresh start and let their cricket be brought back into focus over their backroom issues. Whether they can take that opportunity remains to be seen but given they will again only lose two players to The Hundred, the belief should be high that they can take advantage of that and compete in a difficult group.

Leicestershire Foxes v Somerset CCC - Royal London Cup


2022 captain: Stephen Eskinazi
2022 finish: 4th in group
2022 leading run-scorer: Stephen Eskinazi (658)
2022 leading wicket-taker: Umesh Yadav (16)
Knockout stage appearances: 1 (2019)
Titles: 0
Absentees due to The Hundred: Stephen Eskinazi (Welsh Fire), Tom Helm (Birmingham Phoenix), Max Holden (Manchester Originals)

The big question: How much of an impact will Stephen Eskinazi’s newly-acquired Hundred contract have on Middlesex’s chances? The 29-year-old was the leading scorer in the entire competition last season, hitting his runs at a stunning average of 94, so his loss will be keenly felt in a side that relied heavily on their efforts with the bat last time out.

Key players: In the absence of Eskinazi, two contenders to replace his runs are Pieter Malan and Sam Robson, both of whom scored at averages above 60 last year as well. Both have international caps under their respective belts too, so their quality is not in doubt, which will come as a relief to Middlesex fans. At the other end of the order, young spinner Luke Hollman will also be looking to back up his impressive 13 wickets last time out.

Wildcard watch: Aggressive wicketkeeper-bat Joe Cracknell has caught the eye over the past couple of T20 Blast tournaments and could be a contender to chip in as a partial replacement for Eskinazi, especially given the fluency with which he scores his runs.

Final thought: The good news for the Seaxes is that no other batter has been called up to the Hundred, so there are plenty of established players who have the proven quality and an opportunity to fill in for Eskinazi. However, 658 runs, which was more than a quarter of Middlesex’s total runs in the competition, can hardly just be pulled out of thin air. Either the bowling attack needs to become thriftier, or the weight on Robson and Malan’s shoulders just got significantly heavier.

Sussex Sharks v Middlesex - Royal London Cup

Notts Outlaws

2022 captain: Haseeb Hameed
2022 finish: Quarter-finals
2022 leading run-scorer: Ben Slater (432)
2022 leading wicket-taker: Brett Hutton (22)
Knockout stage appearances: 6 (2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022)
Titles: 1 (2017)
Absentees due to The Hundred: Olly Stone (London Spirit), Joe Clarke, Jake Ball (Welsh Fire), Alex Hales, Samit Patel, Matt Carter, Tom Moores (Trent Rockets), Ben Duckett (Birmingham Phoenix)

The big question: Will Notts’ deep squad be able to carry them to a home final? The Outlaws are the only team in the country who would have home advantage in the final were they to reach it, and in reaching the knockout stages last season, they showed they are capable of competing, even with many of their big hitters away on Hundred duty.

Key players: You would be hard-pressed to find many with a better career List A record than Ben Slater. Last season, he averaged 61.71 in the competition, just above his all-time record of 56.69. In 50 innings in the format, he has passed fifty in 22 of them, racing to almost 2,500 runs already. Meanwhile, Brett Hutton took the most wickets of anyone in last season’s One-Day Cup and has started this season in sterling red-ball form too, with his 42 wickets being the joint-highest of anyone in the County Championship.

Wildcard watch: Matthew Montgomery was brought in ahead of this competition beginning in 2021, but over the last year has flourished in all formats as the first-choice replacement for Ben Duckett when the latter has been unavailable due to international commitments. Keep an eye open too for Ben Martindale, a big-hitter and sharp fielder who recently signed a three-year full-time contract after making his debut in last season’s One-Day Cup.

Final thought: How much of a drive the prospect of a home final truly is, is known only to the Notts team themselves, but even without that possibility, the Outlaws are still a well-balanced side that will pose a stiff test to anyone. If they are to play the final in their own back yard, improving their consistency will be key; they won two games in a row twice last season, but defeats punctuated their progress and left them unable to get on any real run of form.

Notts Outlaws v Surrey CCC - Royal London Cup


2022 captain: Ben Geddes
2022 finish: 7th in group
2022 leading run-scorer: Tom Lawes (318)
2022 leading wicket-taker: Conor McKerr (10)
Knockout stage appearances: 4 (2015, 2016, 2017, 2021)
Titles: 0
Absentees due to The Hundred: Ollie Pope (Welsh Fire), Laurie Evans, Jamie Overton (Manchester Originals), Reece Topley (Northern Superchargers), Sam Curran, Will Jacks, Jason Roy, Tom Curran, Gus Atkinson, Tom Lawes (Oval Invincibles), Jamie Smith (Birmingham Phoenix), Chris Jordan (Southern Brave)

The big question: Can Surrey overcome the loss of so many players to the Hundred? Last term, they were shorn of 13 names, which tests even those who have the depth that the Brown Caps possess. Run-scoring was a real issue last season, with their total of 1,720 being the lowest of any of the 18 counties, but their fortunes in that department could be improved by the fact that Rory Burns has not received a Hundred deal this time around.

Key players: Alongside Burns, Ben Foakes is surprisingly also without a Hundred contract and could be licking his lips at the prospect of cashing in in this competition should that remain the case. Meanwhile, Cameron Steel is also a valuable player, with the ability not just to contribute with the bat but also to bowl some handy leg-spin, and he is joined in Surrey’s all-rounder corps by Tom Lawes, who was the Brown Caps’ leading run-scorer and third-highest wicket-taker last time out.

Wildcard watch: Surrey have lost more than the equivalent of an entire team to the Hundred, but the positive side of that situation for them is the number of opportunities presented for fringe players to stake a claim. Left-arm spinner Yousef Majid is one worth looking out for; the 19-year-old took nine scalps in last season’s competition, second only to leader Conor McKerr, and was rewarded with a full-time professional contract.

Final thought: Surrey will be hoping their depth can carry them in the absence of so much quality, but there has to be an improvement with the bat if they are to make progress from last season’s seventh-place finish.

Notts Outlaws v Surrey CCC - Royal London Cup

Yorkshire Vikings

2022 captain: Jonathan Tattersall
2022 finish: 5th in group
2022 leading run-scorer: Harry Duke (330)
2022 leading wicket-taker: Matthew Waite (14)
Knockout stage appearances: 6 (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021)
Titles: 0
Absentees due to The Hundred: Jordan Thompson (London Spirit), Jonny Bairstow (Welsh Fire), Adil Rashid, Harry Brook, Adam Lyth (Northern Superchargers), Joe Root, Dawid Malan (Trent Rockets), Jafer Chohan, Matthew Fisher (Southern Brave)

The big question: Can Yorkshire finally turn regular appearances in the One-Day Cup knockout stages into some tangible success? Since this competition reverted to 50 overs per side in 2014, the White Rose have often progressed out of the group stage but have been unable to come up with any silverware to show for it. However, their chances of doing so this year might be tough, having lost key all-rounder Matthew Waite in their middle order to Worcestershire.

Key players: List A is the format in which Will Fraine has enjoyed the most success, scoring 328 runs in last season’s competition, and he has been in good form in this year’s Second XI T20 competition too. On the bowling front, all-rounder Matthew Revis was second only to Waite in terms of wickets taken, though with the departure of the latter, Revis has an opportunity to take centre stage.

Wildcard watch: Spinner Jack Shutt has been around the first team on-and-off over the last few years since making his T20 bow in 2019, but still remains something of an unknown quantity and picked up nine scalps in last season’s competition.

Final thought: Yorkshire will host all of their home matches away from their usual home of Headingley in the north of the county, playing two each in Scarborough and York. They will have to hope the loss of home comforts does not put the batters off their game, with a desperate need to improve on their indifferent form from last season in that area.

Essex Eagles vs Yorkshire Vikings, Royal London One-Day Cup, Cricket, The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford, Essex, United Kingdom - 17 Aug 2022