Five big bashers for T20 Blast to look out for this season

Cricket has been hot topic of late, mainly for all the wrong reasons, with England seemingly in turmoil following dismal recent performances, the sacking of head coach Peter Moores and the on-going Kevin Pietersen saga.

However, the country have a chance to forget all the recent issues as is it set to stage to T20 Blast, featuring some high class players.

So, with the competition set to start, Coral cricket writers have come up with five batting superstars to look out for ahead of the tournament…

Shahid Afridi (Northamptonshire Steelbacks)

Demotix 01/04/2014

Pakistan superstar all-rounder Afridi is no stranger to English cricket, having spent spells with Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Kent and Hampshire before, and has signed up for six of the Steelbacks’ T20 fixtures.

At 35, he may be past his peak, but he still has the ability to thrill crowds with his explosive batting and tricky leg spins.

Afridi will be hoping to help Northamptonshire (10/1 to win the North Group) reclaim the T20 title (20/1 chances), and it is likely he will take part in their first fixture against Durham Jets, who are the 8/11 odds-on favourites.

Chris Gayle (Somerset)

Cricket WCup New Zealand West Indies

Arguably the greatest ever T20 player, Gayle has signed for 9/1 title chances Somerset for a maximum of six games; however, fans won’t be able to see the star in action until at least May 22nd.

The West Indies great holds a number of records in the shortest form of the game, having hit the highest ever score (175 not out), the most centuries (14) and an unmatched amount of sixes, both overall (517) and in a single innings (17).

Somerset (9/2 third-favourites in the South Group) will have to make the most of Gayle, whose spell is set to end on June 13th.

Glenn Maxwell (Yorkshire Vikings)

Cricket - ICC World Cup 2015 - Australia v New Zealand - MCG

Yorkshire (10/3 North Group second-favourites) were the Division One county champions last season, but have yet to win this competition. They are 7/1 joint-third favourites this time round.

While Australian Aaron Finch was Yorkshire’s star last T20 campaign, he is expected to miss much of their run due to injury, so his compatriot Maxwell is to step in instead.

The recent ICC world Cup winner, who smashed a century against Sri Lanka in the 50 over finals Down Under, will not feature in the Vikings’ first match, but they are odds-on favourites at 1/2 to beat Derbyshire Falcons (8/5) without him.

Brendon McCullum (Birmingham Bears)

Cricket WCup New Zealand South Africa

Defending champions Birmingham (8/1 title shouts) are seemingly desperate to hold onto their crown, as they have signed up one of the best batsmen in the game in New Zealand’s McCullum.

The Black Caps captain has had a terrific year to date, having helped his nation to the final of the World Cup, smashing runs in the process.

McCullum will play at least seven matches with the Bears (9/2 to win the North Group), who start their campaign against Nottinghamshire Outlaws (8/13 for victory), but won’t feature until the end of June. His side are 5/4 to beat their Midlands rivals.

Jason Roy (Surrey)

Cricket - Surrey CCC Media Day - The Kia Oval

Surrey’s Roy is the only England player on this list, although he was born in South Africa, and he was one of the stars last T20 season as he was the top scorer with 619, getting an impressive eight 50s along the way.

The 24-year-old is at 10/3 shout to be best match batsman in his side’s (1/2 odds-on favourites) first fixture against Glamorgan (8/5), while his teammate Kumar Sangakarra is a 7/2 chance.

Surrey are 7/1 to win the T20 Blast, and 7/2 to top their South Group.

Coral’s top tipJason Roy to be top match batsman at 10/3 against Glamorgan