Friends Life t20 Finals Day Preview
A record crowd is expected at Edgbaston for the 2013 Friends Life t20 Finals Day at Edgbaston this weekend as Essex, Hampshire, Northamptonshire and Surrey battle for the title.
Fans have come in their numbers to the group games and average attendances are up 76% on 2012 figures.
On 5th July, five local derbies were sold out and 145,000 fans in London alone attended group matches.
Now, though, the action heads to Birmingham where the 2013 champions will be crowned. Essex play Northamptonshire and Hampshire meet Surrey in the semi-finals.
The action gets underway at 10:00 GMT as Essex play Northamptonshire, the second semi-final begins at 13:30 GMT and the final is scheduled to start at 17:45 GMT
Essex have never previously won the competition
They have only ever met semi-final opponents Northamptonshire once in Twenty20 cricket, when Essex won a quarter-final in 2008 by 59 runs.
Hamish Rutherford’s strike rate of 167.5 in this season’s Friends Life t20 is the highest of any batsman to score at least 150 runs.
Essex qualified for the quarter-finals by virtue of being the best third-placed team in all three groups. In the ultra-competitive South Group, they won five games, lost four and had one washout.
They then beat Nottinghamshire, who topped the North Group, by 47 runs as Shaun Tait took a hat-trick.
Hampshire are attempting to win their third Friends Life t20 title in four years. A third win would see them join Leicestershire as the successful English Twenty20 side.
Hampshire have won their last four Friends Life t20 matches against Surrey. Both their wins this season came after Surrey won the toss and elected to bat.
Hampshire topped the South Group by taking eight wins, suffering one defeat and one washout, ending with the best record of any team in the country.
In their quarter-final, despite a brilliant Michael Carberry century, they oly beat Lancashire by one run in a gripping finale.
Azharullah has taken the most wickets bowled in this season’s FLt20 (10 out of 24 wickets). No other bowler has hit the stumps more than seven times.
Northamptonshire qualified for the quarter-finals by topping the Midlands, Wales & West Group with 14 points courtesy of seven wins while they lost three matches.
They met Durham in the quarter-final and won by the comfortable margin of 36 runs.
Vikram Solanki has been dismissed bowled more than any other player in this season’s FLt20 – five times in seven innings.
Surrey were runners-up in the South Group to Hampshire with a record of seven wins and three defeats.
Surrey defeated former champions Somerset by three wickets in the quarter-final.
Some stats provided by Opta
© Cricket World 2013