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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 12 March, 2003, 11:44 GMT
Crash bang cricket nets sponsors
Npower have increased their involvement in English cricket by agreeing to sponsor the new Twenty20 Cup which is set to make its debut in the county calendar.

The gas and electricity supply company already back England's home Test matches under an 11m deal, which was signed in 2001.

Kids playing cricket
The ECB hopes to attract more children to play the game
Twenty20 prize money
Winners 52,000
Runners-up 26,000
Losing semi-finalists 15,500

The new agreement will last for three years and an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) spokesman told BBC Sport it was worth a "six figure" sum.

Twenty20 Cricket replaces the B&H Cup and features all 18 county sides, split into three groups of six, in a series of 20 overs per side matches, beginning at 5.30pm.

They will all be played from 13-24 June with the three group winners and best second placed side progressing to Lord's, where two semi-finals and the final will be played on 19 July.

Teams have just 75 minutes to bowl their 20 overs, or face a six-run penalty per over unbowled in that time.

The ECB hope the competition will attract a younger audience.

"It is an innovative tournament that will market county cricket in an exciting new way to young people all over the country," said ECB chief executive Tim Lamb.

"We hope to see many people coming with their colleagues to the matches after work."

BBC Radio will be providing extensive coverage of the competition.

Local radio stations will offer commentary on qualifying games, with the semi-finals to be broadcast on 5 Live Sports Extra and the final on the main Radio 5 Live network.

Twenty20 Cup groups

North: Durham, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire

Mid/Wales/West: Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Somerset

South: Essex, Middlesex, Surrey, Kent, Hampshire, Sussex

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