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Twenty20 Cup - club-by-club guide

Middlesex celebrate winning the 2008 Twenty20 Cup
Middlesex will be looking to defend the title they won in 2008

The crash, bang and wallop of the Twenty20 Cup returns on Monday, with the start of the 2009 season.

What started as an experiment to try and attract more spectators to county cricket has evolved into the most lucrative and controversial form of the game.

Now in its sixth season, this year's competition has been bought forward to coincide with the ICC World Twenty20.

This year also marks the last season where the Twenty20 Cup will be the only English tournament in the shortest format of the game.

The top three counties in each of the three regional divisions will go into the top flight of the English Premier League, which will be contested for the first time in 2010.

Also, the two teams that contest the final at Edgbaston on Saturday, 15 August will qualify for the Twenty20 Champions League to be held in India in October.

Here is BBC Sport's club-by-club guide.

DERBYSHIRE PHANTOMS

How did they do last year? Pleasing and disappointing in equal measure. Won when they were not expected to, but lost when they were expected to challenge. The highlight came in the victory over Yorkshire at Headingley when Greg Smith scored Derbyshire's first ever Twenty20 hundred, but the Phantoms failed to reach the quarter-finals.

Chris Rogers

Who is their overseas player? Australian batsman Chris Rogers captains the side, but is not known for his Twenty20 prowess. However he will be supported by Kolpak player Wavell Hinds and English-qualified Stuart Law, who has joined from Lancashire.

Graham Wagg

Who is the key man? The loss of paceman Charl Langeveldt to a shoulder injury is a massive blow and makes the performances of Graham Wagg all the more important. The former Warwickshire all-rounder has made a mixed start to the season, but will need to contribute with both bat and ball.

BBC Radio Derby's Charles Collins rates the Phantoms' chances: "Group stages again. The North Division is by far the hardest and although we often do well against Durham and should be better than Leicestershire, we struggle against Lancashire, and Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire are tough opponents."
Your say: Discuss Derbyshire's chances on 606

DURHAM DYNAMOS

How did they do last year? Inspired by internationals Albie Morkel, Shaun Pollock and Shiv Chanderpaul as well as home-grown talents Phil Mustard and Liam Plunkett, Durham progressed out of the group stages for the first time. They then eased past Glamorgan in the quarter-finals, but were soundly beaten by eventual champions Middlesex in the last four.

David Warner

Who is their overseas player? Australian opener David Warner could be the star of the Twenty20 Cup and the World Twenty20. He became the first man to represent Australia without having played a first-class game since 1877 when he hit a 43-ball 89 in a Twenty20 international against South Africa in January. His place will be taken by Chanderpaul in late June, who will play if the Dynamos make it to the latter stages.

Ian Blackwell

Who is the key man? Wicketkeeper Phil Mustard was explosive with the bat at times last season, while Ian Blackwell, is a previous winner with Somerset and could be a star with bat and ball. However both could be eclipsed by the exciting Warner.

BBC Sport's Matt Newsum rates Durham's chances: "Durham have been disappointing in limited-overs cricket so far this season, but in Blackwell, Mustard, Warner and Dale Benkenstein, they have proven match-winners. Finals day is a realistic target."
Your say: Discuss Durham's chances on 606

ESSEX EAGLES

How did they do last year? After finishing second in the South Division and hammering Northants in the quarter-finals, they lost in the semis to eventual runners-up Kent.

Danish Kaneria

Who is their overseas player? Leg-spinner Danish Kaneria may be out of Pakistan's limited-overs plans, but remains a very effective Twenty20 bowler and is just beginning to find his best form after a delayed arrival.

Graham Napier

Who is the key man? England commitments mean he will miss the early part of the tournament, but all-rounder Graham Napier remains the Eagles' most important player. His 152 from 58 balls against Sussex last season highlighted his ability to devastate opposing attacks and he will pose a threat with the new ball. Experienced all-rounder Grant Flower will be the Yin to Napier's Yang.

BBC Essex's Glenn Speller rates the Eagles' chances: "Last year's Friends Provident Trophy winners are the team to beat in limited-overs cricket. They boast a number of short-game specialists and anything less than in place in the last four will be seen as a disappointment."
Your say: Discuss Essex's chances on 606

GLAMORGAN DRAGONS

How did they do last year? An improbable quarter-final away to Durham was reached through the back door when the Dragons were the eventual beneficiaries of an ineligibility row involving Yorkshire's Azeem Rafiq in their group game with Nottinghamshire.On the field, the rain was the winner, with four of the 10 group games being lost to the weather. Glamorgan managed three wins, including a memorable victory against Northants that was achieved as the time neared 11 o'clock at night.

Mark Cosgrove

Who is their overseas player? Two larger-than-life characters are likely to share the duties. Aussie blaster Mark Cosgrove will display his no-nonsense batting and some military medium pace at the start of the campaign, with South African limited-overs legend Herschelle Gibbs in line to take over for the second part of the tournament.

Mark Wallace

Who is the key man? Apart from the overseas batsmen, wicketkeeper Mark Wallace is a fast-scorer at the end of an innings with an array of unorthodox shots designed to find gaps in the field. Success may also depend on the spin-bowling department with captain Jamie Dalrymple, Dean Cosker, Robert Croft (usual selection controversy pending) and possibly Mike O'Shea all set to play some part.

BBC Radio Wales' Nick Webb rates the Dragons' chances: "Manager Matthew Maynard is targeting the finals day but the top order has remained flaky through the Friends Provident Trophy. A repeat of last season's last-eight appearance would be appreciated by the supporters and fewer games lost to the weather would be nice, especially ahead of THAT Ashes Test."
Your say: Discuss Glamorgan's chances on 606

GLOUCESTERSHIRE GLADIATORS

How did they do last year? Badly. The 2007 finalists won just one game and finished bottom of the Midland/West/Wales Division.

Graham Wagg

Who is their overseas player? New Zealand all-rounder James Franklin could miss some of the competition because of his involvement in the World Twenty20. Has made a good start to the season and averages nearly 35 with the bat in the shortest form of the game.

Hamish Marshall

Who is the key man? Former New Zealand batsman Hamish Marshall, who turned down a national contract to sign for Gloucestershire on a European Union passport in 2007, is dangerous in all forms of limited-overs cricket. Scores runs almost as quickly as he runs between the wickets and is one of the best fielders in the world.

BBC Radio Bristol's Geoff Twentyman rates the Gladiators' chances: "John Bracewell's return as director of cricket has rekindled the team ethic at Gloucestershire. There are no star names but they do have plenty of high-quality performers. They are a superb fielding side who will stoically defend a total when they bat first. Not to be underestimated."
Your say: Discuss Gloucestershire's chances on 606

HAMPSHIRE HAWKS

How did they do last year? Finished fourth in the South Division behind Middlesex, Essex and Kent. Despite those teams being the winners, semi-finalists and runners-up respectively, this was still a huge disappointment.

Imran Tahir

Who is their overseas player? Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir played a massive part in Hampshire's revival in the latter part of last season. Has limited Twenty20 experience, but is more than capable of both dismissing batsmen and bowling economically.

Sean Ervine

Who is the key man? Given it is a batsman's game, it has to be Sean Ervine. The Zimbabwean is one of the few players in the squad capable of the big-hitting exploits that make Twenty20 so attractive. And, if he can get his bowling right, he will be pivotal to any Hampshire success.

BBC Radio Solent's Adam Blackmore rates the Hawks' chances: "Despite the strength of the South Division, they have a good chance of making the knockout stages. Any success will depend on them finding consistency, which has been their Achilles heel in all one-day cricket in recent seasons."
Your say: Discuss Hampshire's chances on 606

KENT SPITFIRES

How did they do last year? The 2007 champions again made it to the final but lost by three runs to Middlesex at the Rose Bowl.

Wayne Parnell

Who is their overseas player? Paceman Wayne Parnell has been called in to the South Africa squad for the World Twenty20 and at present the Spitfires have no plans to replace him.

Ryan McLaren

Who is the key man? It might be easier to list the players without the ability to win a match single-handedly. Rob Key is an inspirational leader but will be missing due to his international commitments. Joe Denly has enhanced his reputation as an opening batsman in the shortest form of the game while James Tredwell has great ability will both bat and ball. International all-rounders Azhar Mahmood (now a British citizen) and Justin Kemp (a Kolpak player) can both hit the ball into the next postcode, but perhaps the most important man of the lot is Ryan McLaren. He took a hat-trick in the 2007 final and will hopefully return from the IPL in time for the start of the tournament.

BBC Radio Kent's Matt Davison rates the Spitfires' chances: "When Twenty20 cricket began, Kent were a laughing stock and could hardly win a game. However coach Graham Ford turned things around and to be champions in 2007 and runner-ups in 2008 means they must be doing something right. Along with Essex, they will be the team to beat."
Your say: Discuss Kent's chances on 606

LANCASHIRE LIGHTNING

How did they do last year? Quarter-finalists. A trip to the finals day looked on the cards when Middlesex were reduced to 21-4, but Dawid Malan's 103 from 54 balls took the eventual winners through.

Ashwell Prince

Who is their overseas player? Ashwell Prince for the first phase of group games, VVS Laxman from there on. The South African has been in excellent early-season form, but has limited experience of the Twenty20 game. Where to deploy him in the batting order in this competition will be an interesting decision for coach Peter Moores. Laxman will take over at the end of his IPL commitments, and is due to arrive in mid-June. The Indian batsman was hugely popular at Old Trafford during his first spell with the county in 2007.

Francois du Plessis

Who is the key man? South African Francois Du Plessis is in his second season as a Kolpak player and has been a match-winner in one-day cricket on several occasions. Perhaps the best fielder currently playing in county cricket, he is a powerful middle-order batsman and a handy leg-spin bowler too. Worryingly for opponents, he is looking increasingly comfortable in English conditions.

BBC Radio Lancashire's Chris Mallaband rates the Lightning's chances: "Even without Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson, who will be on England duty, the squad has enough depth to go far. Their Achilles heel could be death bowling, with no bowler making a strong case to be regularly entrusted with the final overs in a one-day innings."
Your say: Discuss Lancashire's chances on 606

LEICESTERSHIRE FOXES

How did they do last year? The 2004 and 2006 champions struggled in 2008. Following Darren Maddy's departure to Warwickshire, HD Ackerman carried the burden of the batting with little support. After losing their first seven games, youth was given a chance in the final three, resulting in two wins.

Iain O'Brien

Who is their overseas player? New Zealand paceman Iain O'Brien will miss the part of the tournament because of his participation in the World Twenty20. The Foxes have three South African Kolpak players in Ackerman, Boeta Dippenaar and Claude Henderson, but have a policy of only picking three of their non-England-qualified players at any one time.

Boeta Dippenaar

Who is the key man? This might be a strange pick, but Dippenaar needs to score runs after a disappointing year in 2008. Ackerman will score runs and Henderson and James Allenby will take wickets, but the Foxes need Dippenaar to fire if they have any chance of progressing.

BBC Radio Leicester's Charles Dagnall rates the Foxes' chances: "It will be a big ask to overcome the big four of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Durham and Nottinghamshire, while Derbyshire have shown themselves to be no pushovers. To progress they will have to win their home games and then beat Derbyshire and one other away from home. It saddens me to say I think we will come fourth in our group."
Your say: Discuss Leicestershire's chances on 606

MIDDLESEX PANTHERS

How did they do last year? Started finals day at the the Rose Bowl as underdogs but emerged as champions after beating the much more fancied Durham and Kent. Success was built on a strong unit containing a number of big-name performers, but the squad can not boast the same depth this time around.

Murali Kartik

Who is their overseas player? Indian left-arm spinner Murali Kartik is back for a third year. His partnership with off-spinner Shaun Udal was a crucial part of last year's success and the Panthers will rely heavily on the economical threat of the spinners in 2009.

Dawid Malan

Who is the key man? Young left-hander Dawid Malan scored a century in last year's quarter-final against Lancashire to rescue the Panthers from 21-4 and is one of the few recognised batsmen remaining from the team of 2008. Ed Joyce has moved to Sussex, Eoin Morgan and Owais Shah will be on international duty, while Andrew Strauss is not expected to play Twenty20 cricket. Much will depend on youngsters Malan, Neil Dexter, Billy Godleman and Nick Compton.

BBC London's Kevin Hand rates the Panthers' chances: "The side that will defend the trophy will be quite different to the one that won it in 2008. Besides the changes in the batting line-up, the Panthers will be without pacemen Tim Murtagh, who is injured, and Dirk Nannes, who has been released. After a couple of injury-plagued seasons, Chris Silverwood will have to settle quickly into the Twenty20 side alongside Tyron Henderson and youngsters Danny Evans and Steven Finn. Given all the changes it will be a remarkable effort if the side, now led by Udal, can reproduce the success of last year."
Your say: Discuss Middlesex's chances on 606

NORTHANTS STEELBACKS

How did they do last year? Optimism grew when the Steelbacks won their first four group games and qualified for the quarter-finals for the third time in six seasons. However they lost a crucial toss against a Graham Napier-inspired Essex and succumbed under the lights at Chelmsford.

Lance Klusener

Who is their overseas player? After a spell of signing numerous Kolpak players, Northants have done a U-turn this season and decided against a specific overseas player. Of the side that lost last year's quarter-final, Johann Louwand Lance Klusenerhave left Wantage Road, with Nicky Boje, Johannes van der Wath and Andrew Hall the only remaining Kolpak players.

Andrew Hall

Who is the key man? All-rounder Hall has begun this season in excellent form. The former South Africa international all-rounder took 20 wickets in last year's competition including 6-21 against Worcestershire, a Twenty20 record.

BBC Radio Northampton's Geoff Doyle rates the Steelbacks' chances: "I expect a much tougher campaign this year than in 2008. Leading batsman David Sales is missing and there are injuries to other key players. However this may give some younger players like Mark Nelson and Alex Wakely the chance to impress in the group stages. Rumours of player unrest do not bode well for under-pressure coach David Capel."
Your say: Discuss Northants' chances on 606

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE OUTLAWS

How did they do last year? Failed to reach the quarter-finals and were part of the player registration fiasco that saw Yorkshire thrown out of the tournament. After being beaten by the Tykes in the final group game, Notts were thrown a lifeline when it emerged that Azeem Rafiq was not eligible to play in the match. The Outlaws were then put through to the quarter-finals, but at a second hearing, their place was given to Glamorgan who successfully argued that they should go through as one of the best third-placed teams.

Adam Voges

Who is their overseas player? Australian all-rounder Adam Voges had a disappointing first year at Trent Bridge but has enjoyed a good start to his second year in county cricket. Averages 30 with the bat and 21 with the ball in the shortest form of the game.

Ali Brown

Who is the key man? Veteran opener Ali Brown is still one of the most dangerous players in county cricket. If he can get Notts off to a good start, the likes of Voges, Chris Read and Samit Patel will be free to plunder runs with less responsibility in the middle order.

BBC Radio Nottingham's Robin Chipperfield rates the Outlaws' chances: "It's impossible to tell with Nottinghamshire. Historically, they have a poor Twenty20 record, having only once reached the last four. They are a side that tends to struggle when the pressure is on, so on that basis, a place in the quarter-finals looks optimistic."
Your say: Discuss Nottinghamshire's chances on 606

SOMERSET SABRES

How did they do last year? The 2005 champions finished fourth in the Midland/West/Wales Division, winning three of their ten games with three no results. Just one more point would have seen them through as one of the best third-placed teams.

Justin Langer

Who is their overseas player? Veteran Australian opener Justin Langer will captain the Sabres. Despite playing 105 Test matches, the Australian selectors deemed fit to pick Langer for just eight one-day internationals, but this is not a fair reflection on his ability in the limited-overs game. Averages nearly 40 in domestic one-day cricket and 34 in Twenty20 cricket. A proven match-winner.

Marcus Trescothick

Who is the key man? Opening batsman Marcus Trescothick is still, Kevin Pietersen aside, the best one-day batsman in the country. Has scored more one-day international hundreds than any other Englishman and resisted calls from the national side to play in the World Twenty20. A big hitter with a big reputation, England's loss is Somerset's gain.

BBC Bristol's Geoff Twentyman rates Somerset's chances: "In Trescothick, James Hildreth and Craig Kieswetter the Sabres have genuine firepower at the top of the order. Add to that Langer, Zander de Bruyn and Peter Trego and a potentially destructive batting line-up is formed. They have only made it out of the group stages once, in 2005, but went on to win the competition. This year, they could once again go all the way."
Your say: Discuss Somerset's chances on 606

SURREY BROWN CAPS

How did they do last year? Not well. The inaugural winners never really got going in 2008 and despite playing well in patches they ultimately finished bottom of the South Division.

Grant Elliott

Who is their overseas player? New Zealand all-rounder Grant Elliott has missed out on the Kiwi squad for the World Twenty20 so will be available for the Brown Caps. Has so far struggled to adapt to English conditions but has a good record in the shortest form of the game.

Chris Schofield

Who is the key man? This could be Chris Schofield's year. The former Lancashire leg-spinner had an excellent year in 2007, resulting in a call-up to the England squad for the World Twenty20 in South Africa. Got injured during last year's tournament but is now back to his best with bat and ball.

How will they do? Not fancied by many but could be dangerous. They have plenty of young players with a lot of Twenty20 experience who will not be overawed by the big occasion. If they start well then momentum could carry them through.
Your say: Discuss Surrey's chances on 606

SUSSEX SHARKS

How did they do last year? Struggled in the South Division, which in Middlesex, Essex and Kent, produced three of the semi-finalists. Won just two games and finished next-to-bottom of the group.

Yasir Arafat

Who is their overseas player? Pakistan all-rounder Yasir Arafat is a proven match winner. Will appear in the World Twenty20 and has plenty of experience in county cricket. Averages just 19 with the ball in 20-over cricket.

Luke Wright

Who is the key man? All-rounder Luke Wright may feel aggrieved that he is not part of the England one-day squad and has something to prove. After a stellar summer in 2007, rather lost his way last year but hits the ball as far as anyone in the country and has the ability to bowl quick and full at the death.

How will they do? It is curious that the past decade's unprecedented success has not filtered through in to Twenty20 cricket. Arafat's return and the addition of Ed Joyce could be the catalyst to change that, but it will to tough to progress from the South Division.
Your say: Discuss Sussex's chances on 606

WARWICKSHIRE BEARS

How did they do last year? As is usually the way with Warwickshire, they coasted the group stage only to fall in the quarter-finals. After a rained-off opening game against Glamorgan at Cardiff came an extraordinary tie against Gloucestershire followed by six straight wins. That momentum was not carried into the knockout stages and they disappointingly fell to Kent in the last eight.

Jeetan Patel

Who is the overseas player? Off-spinner Jeetan Patel is in his first season at Edgbaston. Has played 11 internationals in the shortest form of the game but has missed out on the New Zealand squad for the World Twenty20. Averages just 19 with the ball in 20-over cricket.

Neil Carter

Who is the key man? With Darren Maddy, the highest-scoring batsman in the history of Twenty20 cricket, out injured, much will depend on Neil Carter. The South African-born all-rounder has been opening the batting and bowling in this year's Friends Provident Trophy, and if his top-order hitting is successful then the Bears will be in with a chance.

BBC Coventry & Warwickshire's Clive Eakin rates the Bears' chances: "With a number of injury worries, notably Maddy and Rikki Clarke, it could be hard for Warwickshire to maintain their record of always having qualified from the group stage. However, having missed finals day the last time it was held at Edgbaston, the Bears will be desperate to be there in 2009."
Your say: Discuss Warwickshire's chances on 606

WORCESTERSHIRE ROYALS

How did they do last year? Worcestershire won just three of their 10 games in last year's Midlands/West/Wales qualifying group, finishing next to bottom.

Ashley Noffke

Who is their overseas player? Australian seamer Ashley Noffke has suffered an injury-hit start to the season after aggravating his hip following winter surgery. The Queenslander has only played 16 Twenty20 games in his career, the last of them for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2008 IPL. On that day he was one of the bowlers on the wrong end of Brendon McCullum's world record Twenty20 knock of 158 not out off 73 balls at the, going for 40 runs in his four overs.

Moeen Ali

Who is the key man? Batsman Moeen Ali has been given his big chance this year following the retirement of Graeme Hick. He showed what he is capable of when he hit his first one-day century off just 49 balls in the Pro40 League against Northants at Kidderminster two seasons ago. This year's Twenty20 could now be the stage for the young Brummie to really come to the fore.

BBC Sport's Ged Scott rates the Royals' chances: "In captain Vikram Solanki, Moeen Ali and Steve Davies they have the batsman capable of turning any contest but their bowling attack is badly weakened by injuries to Simon Jones and, in particular, Kabir Ali. Neither look likely to be back before the first half of the competition so, at best, they may play in only the final four group matches."
Your say: Discuss Worcestershire's chances on 606

YORKSHIRE CARNEGIE

How did they do last year? Yorkshire will want to forget the 2008 Twenty20 Cup. After winning their final group game against Nottinghamshire, the Tykes thought they were through to the last eight. However Azeem Rafiq's ineligibility was discovered minutes before the quarter-final tie at Durham and the match had to be postponed. Notts were then awarded the game, but at a later hearing the result was allowed to stand but Yorkshire were given no points for the win, sending Glamorgan through as the best third-placed team.

Rana Naved ul-Hasan

Who is their overseas player? Pakistan all-rounder Rana Naved ul-Hasan could have a big impact on this year's Twenty20 Cup. A paceman with the ability to hit the ball a long way, he recently demonstrated his explosive skills by hitting Andre Nel for 18 runs off four balls in the final over of the match to win a Friends Provident Trophy game against Surrey.

Rich Pyrah

Who is the key man? Young all-rounder Rich Pyrah has impressed in this season's Friends Provident Trophy. He is one of the best fielders in the country and is developing into a limited-overs specialist. Averages just 15 with the ball in the shortest form of the game.

BBC Leeds' Dave Callaghan rates Yorkshire's chances: "Historically, Yorkshire have a poor record in this competition, having only made it out of the group stage twice in six years. They might make it to the last eight this year, and possibly even the finals day at Edgbaston, but I cannot see them taking the title."
Your say: Discuss Yorkshire's chances on 606

Compiled by Stephan Shemilt



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see also
County cricket commentaries
21 May 09 |  Counties
Guide to county cricket
06 Apr 11 |  Cricket
Friends Provident T20
11 Apr 05 |  Results Fixtures Tables
ECB reveals new Twenty20 leagues
29 Apr 09 |  Cricket
Middlesex win thrilling Cup final
26 Jul 08 |  Counties
How to win at Twenty20
12 Jun 08 |  Skills


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