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June 3, 2008
The Friends Provident Trophy has reached the quarter-final stage with all four matches being played on Wednesday. Cricinfo takes a look at the four games and how the sides match up.
Durham v Nottinghamshire, Chester-le-Street
The home side are coming off a fine victory against Sussex in the Championship so will be in high spirits as they continue the defence of their title. It was touch-and-go for a while as to whether they would even qualify from the North Division, but they found form at the right time. "This is an important week and we are getting down to the business end of the competition," said Dale Benkenstein. "Ten days ago we had a mountain to climb but turned things around and now we are two games away from getting back to Lord's. I think it suits us being at home and I think we are feared at home and playing this quarter-final at Riverside is a big advantage to us."
Nottinghamshire have had a few days off after not playing the last round of four-day games so will be fresh for the challenge. Will Jefferson is back in the squad and they have a deep batting order with Mark Ealham showing age hasn't wearied him with bat or ball. Darren Pattinson, the Australian import, has been a revelation and is helping cover for the absence of Ryan Sidebottom and Stuart Broad with England.
Kent v Somerset, Canterbury
Kent always had the makings of a side that could impress in one-day cricket this season, with so many allrounders that they often bat down to No. 9 or 10. The availability of Justin Kemp after his registration battle was a huge boost and his power-hitting gives the line-up a formidable appearance. In Yasir Arafat and Azhar Mahmood they also possess two of the finest death bowlers on the circuit.
However, Somerset have played impressively in recent weeks with Championship wins against Kent and Surrey. The match against Kent went down to the wire as Joe Denly struck 149 before being trapped lbw by Charl Willoughby 21 runs short of victory. Somerset will still be without Andrew Caddick, but Alfonso Thomas has supplemented the attack alongside Willoughby and Steffan Jones. Ian Blackwell, in form with bat and ball, could well be their trump card.
Leicestershire v Essex, Grace Road
Paul Grayson, the Essex coach, has backed his side to over the import-boosted Leicestershire side. The number of South Africans at Grace Road has caused plenty of debate in recent weeks, and there could be up to six on the team on Wednesday. "They have some good players and it's no coincidence that their upturn in fortunes has come with six or seven South Africans in their squad," Grayson said. "Whether you agree with it or not they have gone down the Kolpak route very heavily, which has led to a good start in the Championship and top place in their FPT group.
Essex could field two Kolpaks - Grant Flower and Ryan ten Doeschate - while Danish Kaneria adds some spice to the spin attack. "We know we are a very good one-day side and can outplay anybody on our day. If we can play to our potential and do the basics right we know we'll beat Leicestershire," added Grayson.
Gloucestershire v Yorkshire, Bristol
Bristol isn't quite the one-day fortress it used to be, but Gloucestershire are still a tough side to beat on their home patch. Captain Jon Lewis has been named in the squad despite the shoulder problem he suffered against Warwickshire the Championship. The top-order is strong, with the power-hitting of Craig Spearman a potential match-winner, alongside the support of Hamish Marshall and Marcus North.
Yorkshire are boosted by the return of Matthew Hoggard from his broken thumb, and it could be a rare one-day outing for him after he admitted he had issues with the white ball earlier in the season. However, Yorkshire have such a list of injuries to their attack that any experience will be welcome. Rana Naved-ul-Hasan is a long-term absentee, but it looks as though Darren Gough will patch himself up again after various "niggles" against Lancashire. Gough is desperate to finish his career with a Lord's final, but this will be a tough test.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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