Friends Life t20 June 26, 2013

FLt20 Midlands/Wales/West Group preview

Vithushan Ehantharajah

Gloucestershire (25-1)
Overseas players: Michael Klinger, Dan Christian
T20 pedigree: A solid limited-overs outfit, as displayed by their YB40 form so far, they finished as runners-up in 2007 when a Ryan McLaren hat-trick ensured Kent didn't have too much of a chase on their hands.
Prediction: Potential quarter-finalists, particularly with the signing of Australia allrounder Dan Christian, who helped Hampshire win the title in 2010. Last season, Scott Styris' incredible 37-ball century took the last-eight game against Sussex out of their reach before they even had a right of reply. Gloucestershire will be hoping Christian can allow them to inflict that kind of knockout blow on others.

Northants (25-1)
Overseas players: Cameron White, Richard Levi
T20 pedigree: Four quarter-finals and a semi-final seems just about right given the resources available to Northants. Their only visit to Finals Day came in 2009 where they fell in the first game to the eventual winners Sussex.
Prediction: Former Australia captain White brings a wealth of experience and short-form nous, while Levi - at Somerset last season - is responsible for the fastest international T20 hundred but the loss of Trent Copeland will be a big miss. Alex Wakely Steven Crook and David Willey are also influential players but they will need to excel throughout if they are to get out of the group.

Somerset (4-1)
Overseas players: Alviro Pietersen, Yasir Arafat
T20 pedigree: Winners in 2005, Somerset suffered the ignominy of finishing as runners-up three years in a row from 2009. The perennial bridesmaids had to settle for a seat in the congregation for last year's final after losing in their semi to Hampshire.
Prediction: A strong batting line-up has always taken them far. Their bowling dovetails the experience of Alfonso Thomas with the raw talent and pace of Craig Meschede and Jamie Overton, while Peter Trego is one of the best allrounders in the country. Anything less than a Finals Day spot will be seen as a disappointment. The question is, after so much disappointment, can they rediscover their nerve?

Warwickshire (16-1)
Overseas players: Jeetan Patel
T20 pedigree: Failure to get out of the group stages in 2012 ended a run of four straight quarter-final appearances (seven in all). Runners up in the inaugural competition, they are undoubtedly the best of those who are yet to win the competition.
Prediction: Their YB40 form has been abysmal, with none of the batsmen seemingly able to construct a worthwhile innings. The chance to really free their arms might help the likes of Varun Chopra and Rikki Clarke and it looks like England might not have much use for Chris Woakes during the competition. If the same goes for Boyd Rankin, they could blast a few top orders out. Otherwise, they won't get out of the group.

Glamorgan (33-1)
Overseas players: Marcus North, Nathan McCullum
T20 pedigree: Aside from a semi-final in 2004 and quarter-final in 2008, Glamorgan have consistently failed to get out their group. The loss of Dirk Nannes through injury is a blow but his replacement Nathan McCullum is top 10-ranked in international T20.
Prediction: Their trio of Aussies - captain North, Jim Allenby and Michael Hogan - will be dangerous but, unless one or two individuals around them like Mark Wallace and Mike Reed can put in big performances then it's unlikely that we will see them in the final eight.

Worcestershire (33-1)
Overseas players: Thilan Samaraweera, Andre Russell
T20 pedigree: Three quarter-finals is their lot. Russell is an exciting substitute for Jacob Oram, who had to pull out of FLt20 duty because of a hernia. Players like Daryl Mitchell and Jack Shantry are very handy limited-overs players
Prediction: Australia's Phillip Hughes topped the 2012 competition's scoring charts with 402 runs in just eight innings and in his absence another quarter-final appearance looks unlikely. Mitchell and Moeen Ali - in the form of his life this season - could step up to carry the burden of run-scoring but both will struggle to match Hughes' expansiveness.

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  • John on June 29, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    @SamuelH on (June 28, 2013, 12:24 GMT) Yeah , it's a shame.I'm pretty sure H Singh also played for Essex for a while but think Karthick was the last. I know they'd not be able to get an international but maybe someone like Stuart Binney?

  • Samuel on June 28, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    @Priyavrat96 & JG - I know that the Indians on national contracts aren't allowed to appear in overseas T20 competitions. Otherwise, you'd have to ask the counties and the Indian players themselves I'd guess. You'd have to think that, especially for the city based counties where there are large Indian communities such as Leicestershire, it'd be a good way of engaging with said communities and drawing in bigger crowds!

  • John on June 28, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    @Priyavrat96 on (June 28, 2013, 5:46 GMT) I'm really not sure.I think M Karthick was the last player a couple of years ago. Not sure if it clashes with an of the Indian schedule but even if so I'm sure there would be quality Indian players who are not in the nationall side.

  • Priyavrat on June 28, 2013, 5:46 GMT

    Why not Indian players in the Friends Life t20

  • Dummy4 on June 27, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    Somerset have a good squad, capable of finishing top of the grop which they have done so on numerous times. This season, i am not sure, if their batting fires to their maximum, then it will be enough to take them through. They are like South Africa who choked on important games. It will not surprise me to see Somerset to choke on an important game like the Final!!

  • Samuel on June 27, 2013, 10:24 GMT

    A lot of the reason I think why Somerset have failed to win since 2005 is the fact that they regularly breeze through this group - it's always comfortably the weakest of the three, and in recent years they've never truly been put under pressure when qualifying from it. The qualifiers from the North and South groups are inevitably more battle-hardened having played more tough games, so when the pressure comes on they tend to handle it better. Should be more of the same this year, although with Somerset's form being patchy at best a few sides will fancy their chances at knocking them over.

  • John on June 27, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    Have to say (unless I've misread somewhere) how surprised I am that Somerset are such huge favourites. I make it that the next best team is at 8/1.

    TBH - I wouldn't even make them favourites (prob would make Sussex favourites) and am not at all inspired by the overseas signings. I was hoping we'd have Rehman along with another bigger signing but maybe after the Gayle debacle last year they wanted to go for a player who they know is not going to get called away. I think Glamorgan made a better signing in Nathan Mccullum.

    We'll see how it all pans out but I'm not sure we have as good a side as in previous years and yet are big favourites

  • Dummy4 on June 27, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    Gloucestershire lost in the final in 2007, not 2008. Due partly to a hat-trick by Ryan McLaren, not McClaren.

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