Hampshire and Somerset join Caribbean T20
The 2010 Friends Provident t20 finalists, winners Hampshire and runners-up Somerset, have accepted invitations to play in the Caribbean T20 which will be staged during January.
It will provide an element of compensation for missing out on the Champions League Twenty20 due to the tournament, which was held in South Africa in September, clashing with the end of the county season. Both counties will earn a participation fee and the WICB will cover their costs although the possible earnings won't match the CLT20 which Somerset were part of in 2009.
"It is beneficial to us, not on the scale of the Champions League unfortunately but it's a meaningful competition," Richard Gould, the Somerset chief executive, told ESPNcricinfo. "We'll be rolling out as many of our big guns as possible. That means flying Peter Trego back from Australia where he's playing club cricket and Nick Compton from Zimbabwe. I think we'll have all our England players unless they are actually playing for the senior team."
If Craig Kieswetter misses out on England's one-day squad for the series in Australia, which appears likely after he was dropped in favour of Steven Davies for the Pakistan contests, then he could be available while it can be another stage for Jos Buttler and James Hildreth. But, in order to avoid the debate that surrounds any Somerset overseas trip, Gould confirmed Marcus Trescothick won't be travelling. "He's not going, that's decided," he said.
"It will be the second international tournament we have played in two years after the Champions League and we'll be going out to do extremely well," Gould added. "We knew something was in the air about seven or eight weeks ago and are delighted to be invited. We will take the competition very seriously.
"We think it comes at a really good time for us. It is midway through the winter, our players are already back in pre-season training and this will give them something really meaningful to get their teeth into."
Rod Bransgrove, the Hampshire chairman, added: "The Caribbean T20 tournament is a great opportunity for the Hampshire squad to reconvene and play some high-quality cricket over the winter months. I'm sure it will be a very enjoyable fortnight for everyone involved."
The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, where English cricket's most recent association was with the abandoned Test match in 2009, will host the qualifying round while the competition will then conclude in Barbados. The tournament runs from January 10 to 23.
"The WICB is delighted to have again partnered with the ECB on this progressive initiative," Ernest Hilare, the WICB chief executive, said. "The participation of the two top Friends Provident t20 teams in CT20 will certainly enhance the tournament and heighten the excitement. We look forward to keen contests between our Caribbean teams and Hampshire and Somerset and look forward to welcoming English fans to the fun and excitement of Caribbean style T20 cricket."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo