Match Previews: Gloucestershire & Somerset v Essex


Gloucestershire v Essex | Somerset v Essex

Vitality Blast
The Seat Unique Stadium, Bristol | The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton
Thursday 30 May 2024, 6:30pm | Friday 31 May 2024, 6:30pm

Having experienced heartbreak in last season’s final, Essex are back in Vitality Blast action this week with the aim of overcoming that final hurdle and earning the tag of double T20 champions.

Australian all-rounder Daniel Sams is back among the Eagles’ ranks after winning the Blast’s MVP award in 2023, while Jordan Cox and Dean Elgar are among the new faces set for their Essex T20 bows.

Following a strong start to the season in County Championship cricket, a pair of trips to the West Country await Anthony McGrath’s men as the shortest-format competition begins this week.

A meeting with Gloucestershire in Bristol is first up, before Essex take on Somerset in Taunton on Friday night as the Sky Sports cameras capture a rematch of last season’s showpiece.

The Inside Line: Daniel Sams


Head Coach McGrath has named a 15-man squad for the trips to Bristol and Taunton, with Sam Cook missing the trip to the West Country.

Cook sustained a hamstring injury during the last Vitality County Championship match away at Kent, and is currently being assessed by the Club’s medical team following a scan to find out the extent of the injury.

The Opposition: Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire are one of five counties never to have won the domestic English T20 title, with their closest effort coming in 2007, when they finished as runners-up to Kent.

Last season was something of a struggle, as the Bristol outfit picked up only five wins from their 14 matches to finish in seventh, six points behind the fourth-placed Eagles.

In particular, Gloucestershire found batting difficult, with Ben Charlesworth finishing as their leading run-scorer despite totalling only 299 runs, a tally that put him 53rd in the overall competition standings.

Bowling was a little more productive, with Tom Smith’s 17 wickets leading the way from David Payne’s 15 and the 10 that Ollie Price claimed.

Gloucestershire squad: Jack Taylor*, Cameron Bancroft, James Bracey+, Ben Charlesworth, Marchant de Lange, Miles Hammond, Ed Middleton, David Payne, Ollie Price, Josh Shaw, Ajeet Singh Dale, Tom Smith, Matt Taylor, Graeme van Buuren, Beau Webster.

Last Time We Met: Gloucestershire

Many recent meetings between these two sides have been weather-affected, but the rain held off long enough last May at The Cloud County Ground to allow Essex to complete a three-wicket win.

In the Eagles’ opening match of the 2023 tournament, Simon Harmer opted to insert the visitors after winning the toss, and they responded by posting a competitive-looking 195-7.

Charlesworth top-scored with 52 from 20 balls, while Sams and Paul Walter picked up two wickets apiece, before opener Robin Das blasted 69 off 33 to set the Eagles well on their way.

Feroze Khushi also struck 34 off 14 as, despite two scalps each for Payne and Price, the hosts got over the line off the first ball of the final over as Tom Westley, who notched a 23-ball 31, hit the winning four.

The Opposition: Somerset

After winning their second Blast title with a nail-biting final victory over the Eagles in 2023 to go with a previous triumph in 2005, Somerset head into this season with their hopes high.

They are shorn of last year’s tournament-leading wicket-taker Matt Henry, who is away at the World Cup with New Zealand, and have opted to replace him with Australian speedster Riley Meredith.

Whether Meredith will be able to replicate the form of Henry that contributed to Somerset winning 15 of their 17 matches last year remains to be seen, but the rest of the title-winning squad remains intact.

Craig Overton, Lewis Gregory, and Ben Green – who finished behind Henry in 2023 with 30 scalps – are all game-changers, while Will Smeed, Tom Banton, and Tom Kohler-Cadmore are destructive batters.

Somerset squad: TBC

Last Time We Met: Somerset

While many Eagles fans may want to forget last year’s final after Somerset edged out a 14-run win in a low-scoring clash, it would be harsh to disregard what was a spirited Essex showing.

Having seen off Hampshire in the last four prior to Somerset overcoming Surrey, the sides met for the showpiece as Harmer won the toss and opted to chase.

At halfway, it looked a good decision with Sean Dickson’s 35-ball 53 the only innings of note in Somerset’s 145, as Shane Snater returned career-best figures of 3/13 and Walter also took three scalps.

However, Somerset’s strangling bowling attack suppressed the Eagles, as despite Sams’ counter-attacking 45 off 26 balls, he was the last man to fall to confirm an Essex total of 131 all out.

South Group Preview

Click here for a team-by-team preview of each of this year’s South Group contenders.

How To Watch

If you are not making the journey westwards for either fixture, there are slightly different ways to watch each game.

The opener against Gloucestershire will be streamed live on the hosts’ YouTube channel and available to watch via the Essex Cricket Matchzone.

Meanwhile, Friday night’s repeat of the 2023 final will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Cricket from 6:00pm.

A report will be published on the Club website after each match, while live updates and highlights will be provided on the Essex Cricket social media channels.


For anyone joining the Eagles in Bristol, tickets bought in advance are priced at £26 for adults and £9 for juniors (with a 10% discount if you are buying at least 10 tickets), with these prices increasing to £31 for adults and £12 for juniors if bought on the gate.

While seating is unreserved, spectators are able to book specific tickets in either the no alcohol area (block B1 of the Jack Russell Stand) or the low alcohol area (block B3 of the Jack Russell Stand) if they would like.

Tickets for the Gloucestershire match can be purchased by visiting the link below:

Meanwhile, the Somerset fixture is more oversubscribed, with only Category C tickets (in the Somerset Stand, the Ondaatje Alcohol Free Stand, and the Trade Nation Stand) or restricted view tickets left available, and all family tickets sold out.

Category C tickets are priced at £37 for adults, £19 for students, £10 for young adults aged 16-18, and £7 for juniors aged 15 and under, with restricted view seats available at £30 for adults, £15 for students, £7 for young adults, and £5 for juniors.

Tickets for the Somerset game can be purchased by visiting the link below:

The Eagles Have Landed: The 2024 Vitality Blast at The Cloud County Ground

Fresh from a Finals Day appearance last summer, Essex return to shortest-format action in Chelmsford from Sunday 02 June.

Demand remains exceptionally high, and there are now only 15% of tickets remaining across all seven home fixtures, with two already sold out.

With the Eagles aiming to go one better in 2024, there is no time to waste to snap up your seats.

Sunday 02 June, 4:00pm: Essex v Middlesex – buy here
Friday 07 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Glamorgan – buy here (LAST FEW TICKETS)
Friday 14 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Sussex Sharks – SOLD OUT
Thursday 20 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Hampshire Hawks – buy here
Friday 05 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Somerset – SOLD OUT
Thursday 11 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Kent Spitfires – buy here
Sunday 14 July, 2:30pm: Essex v Surrey – buy here