Defending champions Leicestershire kicked off this season’s Friends Life t20 with a woeful performance against North-group favourites Nottinghamshire at Grace Road. They were bundled out for just 96 after being put into bat on a pitch that offered encouragement for the bowlers early on. Darren Pattinson struck twice inside the powerplay, to bowl Josh Cobb for nine and trap Jacques du Toit in front for 11, as he found enough movement to cause the batsmen problems in the opening salvos.
However, if their early troubles could be partially excused, the middle-order’s collapse to Steven Mullaney and Samit Patel could not. Mullaney claimed two caught-and-bowleds on his way to figures of four for 19, while Patel took the key wicket of Abdul Razzaq for just five. Though Mullaney bowled intelligently – mixing up his pace with slower balls and seam-up deliveries – the Foxes played carelessly and many of their batsmen were dismissed to loose shots rather than exceptional bowling.
96 was never going to be enough on an evenly-paced pitch and so it proved, in spite of a brace of wickets from captain Matthew Hoggard, who showed that even though he had lost a good couple of yards of pace from his England heyday, he could still swing the new white ball to great effect. He had Alex Hales edging to slip for five and swung one through Riki Wessel’s gate to reduce the Outlaws to 29 for two. Adam Voges and Michael Lumb then added 31 for the third wicket to extinguish any flickers of hope that the home side may have harboured, before Voges was bowled by Rob Taylor for 21.
Samit Patel and James Taylor then finished things off with a flourish. Patel hit Claude Henderson inside out over extra cover three times during the 12th over, before failing to clear Abdul Razzaq at mid-off and being caught for 17; while Taylor came in and ended things with one of the most delightful 16 not out’s that it is possible to play. He drove Wayne White for four off his first ball, guided him to the third-man boundary off his fourth, and closed the match with two exquisite pull-shots that underlined his balance and class, as well as raising the inevitable questions as to why he is continuously overlooked in England’s limited-overs plans.
It was an altogether sorrier tale at Canterbury, as Kent, in spite of moving the match from an already waterlogged Tunbridge Wells, were forced to abandon their match against Sussex without so much as a coin being tossed.
Midlands/West/Wales Group, Somerset v Warwickshire at Taunton
Somerset will effectively have three overseas players in their line-up, with the South African pairing of Albie Morkel and Richard Levi being joined by Irish all-rounder Kevin O’Brien in a hard-hitting batting line-up.
Possible Somerset XI: Richard Levi, Craig Kieswetter (wicket-keeper), Peter Trego, James Hildreth, Jos Buttler, Albie Morkel, Kevin O’Brien, Lewis Gregory, Alfonso Thomas (captain), George Dockrell, Steve Kirby.
The visitors have already announced their 13-man squad, and have included one-day regulars Neil Carter and Steffan Piolet. Batsman Laurie Evans makes a rare appearance in a first-team squad, as does wicket-keeper Richard Johnson, who has been preferred to Tim Ambrose.
Warwickshire squad: Varun Chopra, Neil Carter, William Porterfield, Darren Maddy, Jim Troughton (captain), Rikki Clarke, Chris Woakes, Keith Barker, Richard Johnson (wicket-keeper), Steffan Piolet, Jeetan Patel, Chris Wright, Laurie Evans.
Weather Forecast: Persistent showers are likely to shorten the opening match at Taunton and will keep temperatures down to 14 degrees Celsius.
South Group, Surrey v Essex at The Oval (match starts at 1730 GMT)
The home side have included Mark Ramprakash in their 13-man squad. He has seemingly benefited from the shoulder injury sustained by Tom Maynard. Dirk Nannes joins Murali Kartik to complete a formidable overseas pairing.
Surrey squad: Rory Hamilton-Brown (captain), Steven Davies (wicket-keeper), Jason Roy, Zander de Bruyn, Gary Wilson, Matthew Spriegel, Zafar Ansari, Gareth Batty, Murali Kartik, Dirk Nannes, Jade Dernbach, Stuart Meaker, Mark Ramprakash.
Essex welcome New Zealand all-rounder James Franklin into their Twenty20 squad, and boast Owais Shah, who had a very successful season in the IPL, at the top of their order. Ravi Bopara misses the match due to forthcoming commitments with England.
Essex squad: Mark Pettini, Tom Westley, Owais Shah, Adam Wheater, Greg Smith, James Foster (captain, wicket-keeper), Ryan ten Doeschate, James Franklin, Graham Napier, Tim Phillips, Tymal Mills, Maurice Chambers, David Masters.
Weather Forecast: Sunshine with the occasional shower is the forecast for the first Twenty20 match in the capital this year, with temperatures peaking at around 17 degrees Celsius in the early evening.
County News In Brief:
Durham all-rounder Paul Collingwood will all of the group stage of the Friends Life t20 after being ruled out for a month with a broken finger.
Sajid Mahmood, who has barely featured in Lancashire’s Championship side so far in 2012, has admitted that his future may not lie at Old Trafford. His contract expires at the end of the season.
The ECB have announced a new marketing gimmick for this season’s Twenty20 competition, with comedians such as Chris Martin, Rory Bremner and Stu Goldsmith lined-up to provide entertainment over the public address system during matches.
© Cricket World 2012
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