The semi-finals and final of the tenth edition of the world’s original domestic Twenty20 tournament will take place tomorrow in Cardiff. The Friends Life t20 may not have the big money of the its Indian cousin or the iconic names of its Australian counterpart, but the matches will be played in front of a sell-out crowd at the SWALEC stadium, and the day will, for some of the players on show, be the biggest of their careers to date.
Yorkshire make their maiden appearance at Finals Day having beaten Worcestershire in the quarter-final and having topped the North Group, but the other three teams have all been here before. Somerset topped the Midlands/West/Wales Group and beat Essex in the quarter-final as they look to go one better than they have done the last three seasons, while Hampshire are winners from 2010, and Sussex were winners the year before that.
1st Semi-Final, Sussex v Yorkshire (1100 BST, 1000 GMT start)
Yorkshire’s travelling band of supporters will have faced an early start – or an expensive hotel bill – if they are to catch the start of their team’s first ever Twenty20 semi-final. They take on Sussex, who, after Yorkshire, were statistically the most successful team during the group stage.
Yorkshire have named a 16-man squad for their long trip south and west, and have been boosted by the news that all-rounder Tim Bresnan has been made available by the ECB. One man who isn't available is Australian overseas player Mitchell Starc, who was their leading wicket-taker during the group stage
Squad: Andrew Gale (captain), Phil Jaques, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow (wicket-keeper), David Miller, Gary Ballance, Tim Bresnan, Adil Rashid, Azeem Rafiq, Ryan Sidebottom, Moin Ashraf, Richard Pyrah, Steve Patterson, Iain Wardlaw, Adam Lyth, Dan Hodgson (wicket-keeper).
Sussex will be helped by the return of Matt Prior to their 16-man squad. Monty Panesar is also included, but is not expected to start, despite taking 13 wickets in the latest round of Championship matches.
Squad: Chris Nash, Luke Wright, Matt Prior, Murray Goodwin, Scott Styris, Michael Yardy (captain), Ben Brown (wicket-keeper), Will Beer, Amjad Khan, Chris Liddle, Michael Rippon, Steve Magoffin, Monty Panesar, Joe Gatting, Naved Arif, Matt Machan.
2nd Semi-Final, Hampshire v Somerset (1430 BST, 1330 GMT start)
Both sides have a strong recent pedigree in the shortest format of the game, with Somerset winning in 2005 and finishing as runner-up for the last three years, and Hampshire winning in 2010. The last time the two sides met at Finals Day was the dramatic 2010 final, where Hampshire won off the final ball, despite a mix-up with the runner for the hobbling Dan Christian.
Hampshire are without overseas all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who was called up to Australia’s limited-overs squads on the back of his excellent performances for them in the group stage. They have fitness concerns over bowler Chris Wood and captain Dimitri Mascarenhas.
Squad: Jimmy Adams, Michael Carberry, James Vince, Neil McKenzie, Sean Ervine, Liam Dawson, Dimitri Mascarenhas (captain), Chris Wood, Michael Bates (wicket-keeper), Danny Briggs, David Griffiths, Simon Katich, Bilal Shafayat, Kabir Ali, Hamza Riazuddin.
A preview for Somerset this season wouldn’t be complete without some mention of injuries and, true to form, they have several fitness concerns, resulting in them not having confirmed their final squad yet. One man who is definitely out is Nick Compton with a prolapsed disc, although Max Waller and Alfonso Thomas have both been rated as having a “decent chance” of featuring by director of cricket, Brian Rose after making a good recovery from their respective injuries. Overseas player Albie Morkel is out injured, but is being replaced by Ireland all-rounder Kevin O’Brien.
Possible starting XI: Richard Levi, Craig Kieswetter (wicket-keeper), Marcus Trescothick (captain), Jos Buttler, James Hildreth, Kevin O’Brien, Peter Trego, Lewis Gregory, Alfonso Thomas, Steve Kirby, Max Waller.
Final, TBC v TBC (1845 BST, 1745 GMT start)
Weather Forecast: One thing that looks almost certain is that at least one of the three matches will be a reduced overs affair as the Cardiff weather, which put pay to today's ODI, continues to have a distinctly wet fell to it. Showers, at times heavy, are expected throuhgout the day, with temperatures reaching no higher than 18 degrees Celsius.
© Cricket World 2012
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