Essex and Worcestershire are in pole position in the Royal London One-Day Cup. The pair, having topped their respective groups, are through to the semi-finals.
So naturally, they are at the head of the betting. Essex are jollies and are best at 4 with green listed bookmaker BetVictor. Worcestershire are slightly bigger at 4.5 (32Red, 188Bet).
Given that they are a game ahead of their rivals – the teams that top the groups go straight through to a home tie in the last-four – it could be argued that both teams should be shorter than they are.
Essex won seven from eight and this could be the year they finally put some one-day silverware on the table. They are often in the mix only to fall short but this time they look well-stocked with talent and experience.
They have been boosted by the use of Alastair Cook as an opener. He has notched a whopping 503 runs. But they are no one-man batting team. Varun Chopra and Ravi Bopara have good numbers, too.
With the ball, they boast Kiwi quick Neil Wagner and South Africa Kolpak spinner Simon Harmer.
Worcester are less fashionable than Essex and boast fewer ‘stars’. Indeed, most would be hard pressed to name one of their players save for England all-rounder Moeen Ali.
They are a crop of academy graduates and other home spun talent. There is not one standout performer with bat and ball with each player contributing. They have four batters with more than 200 runs to their name and four bowlers with seven wickets or more.
In this regard, they are reminiscent of the great Gloucestershire one-day side of the nineties. They won everything but they rarely got the respect they deserved from bookies.
The Midlands county will play the winner of the quarter-final between Yorkshire and Surrey at Headingley. Now, these are two powerhouses of the county game and are sure to be well-supported in their bid for the final.
For proof of that just look at the odds. Yorkshire are 4.5 with 32Red, 188Bet. It’s the same price as Worcestershire. Need we remind you they are still in the quarters? Bonkers. Surrey are no better than 3.8 on Betfair.
Somerset and Nottinghamshire meet in the other play-off with the winners meeting Essex. Somerset won five from seven in the same group as Essex and get a 7.5 (32Red, 188Bet) quote. That looks decent value against a Notts team who won four from eight.
Nottinghamshire are 5.5 with the same two firms and it is hard not to reckon that these layers are just pricing up the outfits because they have heard of them. There’s money to be made on such poor logic.
For now, we wouldn’t put you backing both Essex and Worcestershire considering they should be shorter. They are one step closer to the Lord’s showpiece and that should be respected.