Friends Life t20 June 26, 2013

FLt20 North Group preview

Vithushan Ehantharajah

Derbyshire (28-1)
Overseas players: Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Albie Morkel
T20 pedigree: Not good. Only once have they got past the group stages (a quarter-final in 2005) - the worst record of all the 18 counties. A team exceeding the sum of their parts they might be, but success in this format is built on having one or two expressive players, which they just haven't had...
Prediction: Until now? The acquisition of Morkel for the nine of the ten group games is a smart one, providing the team with a big hitting allrounder with six seasons of IPL cricket behind him. For all his talents, however, the onus is on 'home' players such as Wes Durston, Chesney Hughes and Mark Footitt to get them out of the group. It's probably too much of a stretch.

Durham (20-1)
Overseas players: None
T20 pedigree: Two quarter-finals and one Finals Day appearance to date, all in the last five years. Durham have slowly got to grips with Twenty 20 cricket, coinciding with back to back Championships titles from 2008.
Prediction: An organised unit they will always be, but the responsibility taken on by their younger players should see them reach the quarter finals. Mark Stoneman has been a revelation at the top of the order this season, while Scott Borthwick and Ben Stokes are two of the most in-form allrounders in the country and Graham Onions is a class act. Look out for Mark Wood , too, one of the quickest bowlers around, with good Twenty20 credentials - so much so that he nearly earned himself a contract to play in last season's Big Bash League in Australia.

Lancashire (12-1)
Overseas players: Simon Katich, Mitchell McClenaghan
T20 pedigree: They have appeared at three Finals Days and made the quarter-finals on all but two occasions but, for all their consistency, Lancashire have never won the competition. The closest they came was in 2005 when Graeme Smith 's unbeaten 64 won a rain-affected final for Somerset.
Prediction: McClenaghan has taken to English conditions with glee and his searing left-arm pace will had something extra to an attack that has bowled the side to the top of Championship Division Two and third in Group B of the YB40. Quarter-finals are a given.

Leicestershire (25-1)
Overseas players: Joe Burns, Shakib Al Hasan
T20 pedigree: The most successful Twenty20 side, Leicestershire have won the competition three times. The squad has a much more youthful look to it than when they were last FLt20 champions in 2011 but, as they have shown before, they possess the raw talent and exuberance that can see them through limited-overs games.
Prediction: Shiv Thakor and Rob Taylor will need to support captain Josh Cobb, who can be a match-winner - he already has three one-day hundreds this season and is useful with the ball, as his match winning 4 for 22 in the 2011 final proved. The invaluable experience of Shakib - ranked the fifth-best T20 bowler in the world - and Niall O'Brien could secure them third in the group.

Nottinghamshire (8-1)
Overseas players: David Hussey, Ian Butler
T20 pedigree: Underachievers, when you look at the talent they possess. Runners-up in 2006 is as close as they've come to glory but they have reached the quarter-finals in each of the last three years, going one stage further in 2010.
Prediction: Could this be their year? Even with England call-ups, their bowling attack contains handy variety, with Ajmal Shahzad's speed, Harry Gurney's left-arm seam, and the orthodox spin of Samit Patel, who also adds to an impressive batting line-up capable of dealing with any of 20-over cricket's permutations. Add into that the part-time off spin and unparalleled Twenty20 run-scoring of Hussey and you should have one of your Finals Day participants.

Yorkshire (12-1)
Overseas players: None
T20 pedigree: David Miller nearly single-handedly dragged Yorkshire to victory in last year's final with some exceptional hitting but that was the first time they had made it past the quarter-finals. Their previous two forays beyond the group stages came in 2006 and 2007.
Prediction: Flying in Division One yet floundering in the YB40, the discrepancy between their Championship and one-day performances and personnel suggests the former is the main priority. The riches of Twenty20 cricket may have them changing tack but they will miss Joe Root and, perhaps, Jonny Bairstow and Tim Bresnan for most of the group stage. Mitchell Starc was the competition's top wicket-taker in 2012 and they will need to bring in a player of similar standard to give them a chance of coming close to what they achieved last year.

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