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Top two scorers face off in NatWest T20 Blast at Cheltenham

Saturday 11th July 2015

The two leading run-makers in this season’s NatWest T20 Blast go head-to-head at Cheltenham tomorrow afternoon. And that could mean a feast of entertainment for what is sure to be a large and colourful sell-out Festival crowd at the College Ground. Gloucestershire’s Michael Klinger and Kent’s Sam Northeast two of the only three batsmen in the competition to have scored more than 500 runs in the group matches to date. Klinger is out in front with 578, while Northeast has made 540, having played in two more games. Luke Wright, of Sussex, is third on the list with 522. With four not-outs to his name, the Gloucestershire one-day captain has a far better average at 115.6, compared to Northeast’s 54 and has hit 19 sixes, five more than his Kent counterpart. But Northeast has a better strike rate and can boast 63 fours to Klinger’s 47. Which of them fares better tomorrow could have a major bearing on the outcome. Gloucestershire head coach Richard Dawson said: “Kent have some very dangerous players at the top of their order in Northeast, Bell-Drummond and Billings. “With the size of the ground and the type of pitch at Cheltenham, everything seems set of a high-scoring game. “Hopefully the crowd will get the sun on their backs and enjoy some fantastic entertainment.” Hamish Marshall faces a late fitness check after a slight recurrence of the calf muscle strain, which kept him out of four earlier group games, three of which Gloucestershire lost. David Payne has been under treatment for a shoulder injury and Matt Taylor is still resting after a back problem. Gloucestershire will be looking to build on the momentum they gained by beating arch-rivals Somerset at Taunton in their last T20 outing. But there is also a big incentive for Kent to avenge a nine-wicket hammering the corresponding match at Beckenham earlier in the competition. Klinger finished 69 not out that night, while Northeast was bowled by Benny Howell for just 14. One Gloucestershire player in the mood to upstage both when it comes to big-hitting is off-spinner Jack Taylor, fresh from scoring 156 off 125 balls in the LV=County Championship win over Northants. Taylor said: “If we can win our two T20 games at Cheltenham we will have a chance of qualifying from the group. “We need to be more consistent and play better as a team, rather than relying on one or two individuals. But we can take anyone down on our day.”