Australians line up for Twenty20 finals
Ben Edmondson, Phil Jaques and Brad Hodge are among the in-form Australians who will taste finals action in the county Twenty20 deciders next week. Edmondson, who is not in Australia's 30-man preliminary World Championship squad, has been one of the best bowlers in a severely rain-affected tournament, with 11 wickets at 10.72 and an economy rate of 6.05.
He is equal fourth on the wicket tally as his pace and ability to swing the ball have proved useful for Gloucestershire. Another strong performance from Edmondson on Friday, when he took 2 for 21 from four overs, helped his side into the finals with a comfortable win over Glamorgan at Bristol.
Gloucestershire will meet Worcestershire in a quarter-final next Tuesday, with Edmondson set to face his countrymen Jaques and Doug Bollinger. Jaques has only played three Twenty20 games this season, for a solid return of 114 runs at 38. On Friday he top-scored with 38 from 28 balls in a 13-run victory over Warwickshire at Edgbaston, three days after he posted a matchwinning 59 against Somerset at Taunton.
Brad Hodge also has the chance to continue building his tally with Lancashire scheduled to take on Warwickshire next Wednesday. Hodge's Twenty20 opportunities have been limited - Lancashire's last three games were washed out without a ball being bowled - but his four outings brought 114 runs at 28.5. Hodge's only half-century came against Yorkshire at Old Trafford, when he scored 57 from 49 deliveries to set up a 30-run win.
Jason Gillespie claimed 2 for 19 from his four overs against Derbyshire at Leeds on Friday as Yorkshire secured their place in the finals. Gillespie had a consistent tournament, taking eight wickets at 21.12 and conceding 7.34 an over from seven matches. Yorkshire will meet Sussex next Wednesday.
The other final will feature only one Australian, David Hussey, as Nottinghamshire face Kent next Tuesday. Hussey's Twenty20 form has not mirrored his success in the other county competitions this season but he has still made 107 useful runs at 26.75 for Nottinghamshire.
Unlike last year, when Justin Langer, Cameron White and Hussey were three of the top four Twenty20 run-scorers, Australians were less prodigious in 2007. Of all the Australian imports White had the most runs with 190 at 27.14 at a strike-rate of 136. However, that left him ninth on the overall county tally.
White did not repeat the pyrotechnics he displayed in 2006, when he struck a then-record 55-ball century for Somerset, but he did produce two impressive innings this season. Against Glamorgan at Taunton White belted 68 from 35 balls, including six sixes, in one of only three victories for Somerset. On Friday at Northampton, White finished the tournament on a high with an unbeaten 50 from 42 deliveries as Somerset enjoyed an eight-wicket win. His captain, Langer, had an uneventful series and totalled 119 runs at 14.87 from his eight innings.
Simon Katich reminded the national selectors he is more than just a top-order grinder, ending the tournament with 128 runs at 42.66 and an excellent strike-rate of 147.12. Katich's Derbyshire did not win a game but he at least was consistent, scoring 31, 26, 39 not out and 26. His team-mate Travis Birt made 104 at 20.8, with a highest score of 40 from 27 balls against Nottinghamshire at Derby.
Adam Voges did his chances of a World Championship call-up no harm with 66 not out for Hampshire against Sussex at Southampton. His 47-ball effort featured four sixes but it was his only standout performance and he finished with 106 runs at 17.66 from seven outings.
Matthew Nicholson played his part in Surrey's unsuccessful campaign, conceding only 6.35 an over and claiming 11 wickets at 13.09. His best figures were 3 for 23 against Essex at Chelmsford, but that was in a loss that another Australian had a hand in. Andy Bichel made 35 that day, one of two useful innings he played in Essex wins. He also scored 33 against Sussex and took eight wickets at 24.75 with an economy rate of 7.07. Bichel helped his side finish with a victory against Middlesex at Lord's, where he collected 3 for 34.