Rain prevented almost any play on the final day of the remaining LV= County Championship fixtures, meaning that Hampshire's basement battle with Worcestershire, Northamptonshire's table-topper against Middlesex; and Essex's match against Derbyshire all ended in draws. A little play was possible at The Rose Bowl with Hampshire facing 12 overs and advancing their second innings to 157 for six. By Daniel Grummitt.
T20 Finals Day Preview
Fortunately the weather forecast for tomorrow is slightly better, with persistent showers predicted for much of the afternoon before clearing in the evening. Therefore there should hopefully be no need for the reserve day. Even so, it would be a surprise if we managed the full 120 overs so expect Duckworth/Lewis to play a key role. The pitch is expected to take spin from the start but obviously more so as the day progresses - a situation that suits Hampshire with their formidable spin trio.
1st Semi-Final, Lancashire v Leicestershire (1100 start)
Leicestershire are perhaps surprisingly the most successful side in the history of the Twenty 20 Cup with two wins and two further Finals Day appearances to their credit; not an insignificant achievement for a small club that, as seen by today’s departure of Harry Gurney, often see their best players poached by their more moneyed rivals. In spite of being blown away in the Championship and in the Clydesdale Bank 40 this season, the Foxes seem to have developed a knack of winning in the shortest form of the game which means they shouldn’t be written off.
They are almost certain to be missing the services of their leading wicket-taker, Harry Gurney, who has a side strain, but are boosted by the return of Andrew McDonald and of England international James Taylor.
Leicestershire (probable): 1.Josh Cobb 2.Andrew McDonald 3.Jacques du Toit 4.James Taylor 5.Wayne White 6.Paul Nixon 7.Abdul Razzaq 8.Matthew Boyce 9.Claude Henderson 10.Matthew Hoggard 11.Nathan Buck
Lancashire, on the other hand, have competed in all forms of the game in 2011 and still have a realistic prospect of doing the double. Coached by the impressive Peter Moores they are a well-drilled side that is, like Leicestershire’s, brimming with home-grown talent.
The Lightning will be without key overseas player Junaid Khan, who is at a training camp with Pakistan, but they have a ready-made replacement in the form of club captain Glen Chapple.
Lancashire (from): 1.Stephen Moore 2.Tom Smith 3.Steven Croft 4.Paul Horton 5.Karl Brown 6.Gareth Cross (wk) 7.Farveez Maharoof 8.Glen Chapple (c) 9.Sajid Mahmood 10.Stephen Parry 11.Gary Keedy 12.Simon Kerrigan 13.Jordan Clarke 14.Luke Procter 15.Andre Agathangelou
The bookies have found it hard to separate the two northern teams, with most having the Lightning as slight favourites. They are widely available at around 10/11, with the Foxes at 11/10.
2nd Semi-Final, Hampshire v Somerset (1430)
The Royals have suffered a miserable season in the LV= County Championship and were out of the running in the Clydesdale Bank 40 early on so their season hinges on today. Expect them to squeeze three spinners into the side, especially if they reach the final, and to be well led by Dominic Cork.
They have an interesting selection decision to make over who will be their wicket-keeper, with the younger Michael Bates having impressed behind the stumps, but he more experienced Nic Pothas by far the better batsman. Another conundrum they face is how to incorporate Danny Briggs into a side that boasts a pace-bowling line-up of the calibre of Dominic Cork, Dimitri Mascarenhas and Chris Wood.
Hampshire (from): 1.Jimmy Adams 2.Shahid Afridi 3.James Vince 4.Neil McKenzie 5.Sean Ervine 6.Liam Dawson 7.Dimitri Mascarenhas 8.Dominic Cork (c) 9.Chris Wood 10.Michael Bates (wk)11.Imran Tahir 12.Danny Briggs 13.Nic Pothas 14.Simon Jones 15.Benny Howell
Somerset surprisingly only just qualified for the knockout stages of the competition; such was the quality of the opposition in the South Group. They come into Finals Day widely regarded as having the best batting line-up for one-day cricket of all the counties, but as was seen last year, they have a habit of choking on the big stage and are in danger of becoming the South Africa of county cricket.
The Sabres welcome back Craig Kieswetter and George Dockrell from international duty, and will be able to call upon Jos Buttler six-hitting prowess, the like of which has seen him earn a call-up to England’s Twenty20 side. Murali Kartik and Lewis Gregory also return from recent injuries, meaning that the 'Cidermen' are at full strength.
Somerset (from): 1.Marcus Trescothick (c) 2.Craig Kieswetter (wk) 3.Peter Trego 4.James Hildreth 5.Kieron Pollard 6.Jos Buttler 7.Arul Suppiah 8.Lewis Gregory 9.Alfonso Thomas 10.Murali Kartik 11.George Dockrell 12.Craig Meschede 13.Steve Kirby 14.Nick Compton
Like in the first semi-final, the bookies can barely separate the two teams with Somerset the slight favourites.
The bookmakers are expecting a Somerset/Lancashire final and make Somerset outright favourites should that be the case. They are available at 2/1 to win the tournament, with the Lightning at 4/1. Hampshire are also at 2/1, with the Foxes the outsiders at 19/4.
County News in Brief
The PCA and older brother Steve have questioned the manner in which Durham have released all-rounder Ben Harmison. His details have been circulated to other counties.
Glamorgan are set to appoint one of Mark Wallace, Jim Allenby and Marcus North as their club captain for next season.
Northamptonshire have reprimanded seamer David Lucas for making an obscene gesture to a spectator during the third day of their recently concluded match against Middlesex.
Harry Gurney has signed a three-year contract with Nottinghamshire. Meanwhile, the Foxes have announced that they are releasing Tom New a year from the end of his contract.
Warwickshire's Ant Botha has officially announced his retirement from first-class cricket due to a persistent elbow injury.
Liam Plunkett has signed a new two-year contract with Durham.
© Cricket World 2011