Strugglers seek one-day solace
Glamorgan, to the surprise of many, have secured their place in the final of the Yorkshire Bank 40 and, on Monday, they will discover their opponents as Nottinghamshire and Somerset meet at Trent Bridge in a match that provides both sides with a last opportunity to grab something rewarding from the season.
Both counties have struggled in Division One of the County Championship, and neither is safe from relegation. A place in the final at Lord's on September 21 offers the chance of redemption and, even though Glamorgan's displays have demanded respect, the winners of this second semi-final can expect to be installed as favourites.
Somerset are in greater peril of relegation in the Championship, and they could be forgiven if in Nottingham they have half a mind on their crucial meeting with Surrey at Taunton two days later.
Nottinghamshire cruised through their qualifying group and Mick Newell, their director of cricket, is aware of the significance of the semi-final in the context of his team's season.
"We're looking forward to the challenge", he said. "There were a couple of blips towards the end of qualifying but we played very well though the first half of the competition. James Taylor played excellently, as did Alex Hales and Samit Patel. We had a little stutter but you're not going to win 12 out of 12 so I think winning nine was a pretty good effort."
Newell had high expectations of Nottinghamshire in one-day cricket at the start of the season, but they succumbed in the Friends Life t20 at the quarter-final stage. To falter again would be a frustrating end.
"We've achieved a minimum," he said. "I felt from early in the season this was a good one-day team, and that the minimum requirement was to make a home quarter and a home semi. We've done that now so if we win I'll be very pleased that we've achieved more than the bare minimum and if we lose we'll look back and think that wasn't really quite good enough for this team."
Nottinghamshire expect a close contest with Somerset. "They're similar to us," Newell said. "They'd probably say they're a better one-day side rather than four-day side. They played a lot of good, dominant cricket in their group. They're a good batting side in particular, very explosive, but with someone like Jos Buttler missing I hope that would swing things in our favour."
Buttler is away keeping wicket for the England one-day team but Somerset will have Jamie Overton available; he has been released from the England squad for this match but will return ahead of the third ODI. Somerset will be hoping that Craig Kieswetter can put behind him the demons of his last match, when he conceded 41 byes in a two-wicket Championship defeat to Derbyshire at Taunton.
Lurking in the background will be the debate over whether Hales and Michael Lumb, in demand for their T20 prowess, should be allowed to enter the auction for IPL next year. Nottinghamshire were unwilling to let them go last year, but they are pressing for a change of heart and talks have begun.
"The phrase 'showdown talks' was slightly exaggerated," Newell said, with a smile. "I had a meeting with Michael Lumb's agent and I'm expecting to have a meeting with Hales's agent at the end of the season.
"We said when we said 'no' in January that we would review the whole situation at the end of the season because the IPL is such a fluid event in terms of when it takes place, and where, and who's in charge so we'll have some more chats then we'll make a decision that is right for the cricket club."
He has no worries about the issue being a distraction for the pair. "I'd like to think the issue won't hang over the players on Monday. Hales and Lumb are excellent white-ball players so their focus, I believe, is all about getting us to Lord's."