Group-by-group guide to the Twenty20 Cup

South Group



Historically Surrey have been the outstanding side of the group, winning the inaugural tournament in 2003 and qualifying for the finals day on four occasions. They will face strong opposition primarily from Kent, the reigning champions, and Sussex, the strongest county in the country.



Twenty20 is all about scoring runs and Sussex, in the shape of Luke Wright and Murray Goodwin, had the two leading run scorers in last seasons tournament. The pair struck two of the five Twenty20 hundreds hit in 2007. The bowling is excellent too with Mushtaq Ahmed and James Kirtey showing that experience is vital.



Kent will be strengthened by the presence of Justin Kemp, whose power hitting will supplement the more orthodox batting of Robert Key and Joseph Denly, who both had excellent tournaments last year. Simon Cook has enjoyed Twenty20 and Azhar Mahmood is highly effective at the end of an innings when yorkers are required.



Surrey have signed the former Pakistan all-rounder, Abdul Razzaq, to bolster their side and the evergreen Mark Ramprakash will be hoping to have another strong showing. The tournament will be a welcome distraction for Ramprakash, who currently sits on 99 first-class hundreds. James Benning has another chance to push his credentials too.



The retirement of Shane Warne, although he asked to miss Twenty20 cricket before the big money arrived, leaves Hampshire short of inspiration whilst England's one-day series deprives Essex of Ravi Bopara, the teams gun player. Middlesex have a lot to prove but the 'Turn Lord's Pink' match against Surrey, where pink shirts will be sold to raise awareness and funds for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, should make an excellent spectacle.



To qualify - Sussex, Kent.



North Group



This group is the most successful and therefore the strongest in the tournament. It has provided more teams for Finals Day (eight), and more finalists (four), than any other. With all the money that is now available it will be hoping the trend continues. Leicestershire have twice triumphed and they remain a competitive team but it is hard to believe they will oust the likes of Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Durham.



Michael Vaughan will make his eagerly awaited Twenty20 debut for Yorkshire and it will be interesting to see whether the financial benefits available bring out the best in him. Darren Gough will be desperate to pay a full role too. Dazzler loves the big stage and he will want to show audiences what they will miss when he retires at the end of the season.



Andrew Flintoff will return at some stage, and the sight of 'Big Fred' thundering in at Old Trafford should get them flocking in. In Stuart Law, Lou Vincent, Glenn Chapple and Dominic Cork Lancashire have plenty of other experienced players too, defying the view that Twenty20 is a young persons game.



Durham continue to make progress and, like Leicestershire, seem to benefit from an excellent team spirit. Nottinghamshire appear more suited to the longer game but in Samit Patel they have a young all-rounder who should interest the Indian Premier League. Derbyshire will have done extremely well to reach the Quarter Finals.



To qualify - Lancashire, Durham.



Midlands/Wales, West Group



Somerset won the Twenty20 Cup in 2005 and Gloucestershire reached last years final but this group has had only limited success in this form of cricket. Somerset will be the side to beat. Under the captaincy of Australia's Justin Langer they will not be short of enthusiasm and the team wil contain several star players.



Twenty20 was made for batsmen ike Marcus Trescothick and Ian Backwell, thunderous hitters of a cricket ball. Langer gives it a bit of tap too. James Hildreth is a class act too and this quartet should score hundreds of runs at Taunton. At the IPL Glenn McGrath showed that a good old 'un can cut it with the young guns and Andy Caddick , fitness permitting, will be hoping to do the same.



Warwickshire, under Ashley Giles, are going through a period of transition, whilst the confidence of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire must be low, neither of whom have made a good start to the season. Glamorgan have improved and Herschelle Gibbs could prove to be an excellent signing. The South African is destructive with the bat and brilliant in the field.



Northamptonshire have five rebel players, cricketers who played in this years Indian Cricket League, on their staff and could be dangerous. Everybody knows how dangerous Lance Klusener can be whilst Nicky Boje and Andrew Hall are very capable all-rounders. Johan van der Wath is a good cricketer too.



To qualify - Somerset, Northamptonshire.

Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015