Outlaws' stellar cast can upstage the rest and take Twenty20 glory

Pattinson confident that Nottinghamshire are the team to beat in finals day at the Rose Bowl
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The Independent Online

Eat your heart out, IPL: Nottinghamshire will take to the field for the Friends Provident Twenty20 finals today boasting five players who took part in May's World T20 final.

The presence of England's Stuart Broad, Ryan Sidebottom and Graeme Swann and Australia's David Hussey and Dirk Nannes means that the Outlaws look the team to beat on the county game's big day, but their trump card might prove to be a player whose own brief moment in the spotlight came more than two years ago.

Darren Pattinson was famously plucked from relative obscurity to play for England against South Africa in July 2008. It was a controversial choice, not least because Pattinson, although born in England, was so clearly an Australian. Such was the furore that Michael Vaughan, the England captain at the time, came as close as can be to criticising the selection without actually doing so.

Pattinson, as is his way, just got on with it and although he did not shine at Headingley, he did not shame himself either. It was his only Test appearance, a fact that may have disappointed Pattinson but probably not Nottinghamshire, for whom he has been a stalwart these past few seasons. This year he is the county's top wicket-taker in the Twenty20 competition (20 at 17.65) and a vital element in a bowling unit that has driven the Midlands side to the head of the pack chasing the County Championship.

Today Notts will face Somerset in the day's second semi-final after Essex take on the home side, Hampshire. Pattinson is understandably bullish although he refuses to take anything for granted. "There's great excitement at the club," he said. "We can't wait to get out there and get stuck in.

"We're confident – to have the England boys, Broady and Swanny, coming back is a massive boost and on paper we have a great team. But if we don't turn up on the day and play to our potential it means nothing, really."

His success this season has come from working on his game. "It took a little while [for me] to get used to playing T20," he said. "I hadn't played a lot before this season and the games that I played in I had struggled a little bit so I had to change my game a little bit. I had to learn to change my pace and assess situations better."

Somerset, last year's beaten finalists, will prove a tough nut, as Pattinson acknowledges. As well as facing off in today's match, the counties fill the top two spots in the County Championship. "They've got some really good players," he said. "There's obviously Marcus Trescothick and Craig Kieswetter but also Alfonso Thomas, who has been bowling really well for them."

Pattinson, of course, has experience of the big occasion. He is able to look back on his solitary Test cap with pride. "I've got fond memories," he said. "I can always say that I've been there and played a Test match. Things happened so quickly at the time that it's taken a while to sink in.

"It was nerve-wracking, getting called up out of nowhere. I had an inkling that I might be picked because I had been in various England squads but I didn't really think it was coming. I never thought that it would happen."

It is unlikely to happen again, as he acknowledges: "I'm 31 now. The way the team is performing and the squad they've got, it would be a real long shot."

Nonetheless, the Grimsby-born, Melbourne-raised former roof-tiler will be watching this winter's Ashes with interest. As a man known for swinging the ball, he believes concerns over the England bowling attack's ability to thrive in Australian conditions are overstated. "Some of the venues will suit them – Brisbane swings a lot, Perth as well, even in Melbourne given the right conditions," he said. "So if they get the right conditions, they'll go fine."

He thinks England can claim a first Ashes series win Down Under since 1986-7. "The way they've been going, with Australia on a bit of a downer – if England play well, it's going to be very difficult for Australia."

Not that he'll necessarily be cheering, despite his England cap. "As far as the Ashes go, I don't support anybody," he said. "I just watch with a keen interest, really."

Kevin Pietersen will be among those watching today's action with interest after his county, Hampshire, decided not to select him despite being released by England. Alastair Cook will play for Essex – how he could do with some runs in front of a sell-out crowd – and Nottinghamshire, of course, have their England men. Pattinson respects Nottinghamshire's rivals but he believes that if they play to their potential they will be hard to stop.

"Anything can happen on the day in T20," he said. "The way we've been playing, though – if we take that into today I can't see why we can't go all the way."

Three batsmen with something to prove today

Alastair Cook

(Essex, 350 runs at 38.8 in 10 matches)

His England place is under threat, but his record this season suggests he can thrive today. Opening partnership with Ravi Bopara is excellent.

Craig Kieswetter

(Somerset, 135 runs at 16.87 in eight matches)

In May, he was all-England's hero after his World T20 heroics. Since then he's struggled, although a 33 in Somerset's quarter-final hints a return to form looms.

Michael Carberry

(Hampshire, 188 runs at 20.88 in 10 matches)

His four-day form has put him on the brink of an England openers' place. He bats down the order in T20 but a big score could increase the pressure on Cook.

Rose Bowl Details

Match times

11.30am: Hampshire v Essex

3pm: Nottinghamshire v Somerset

6.15pm: Final

Weather

The Rose Bowl will be cool and breezy with a chance of heavy showers, particularly at midday. The best conditions should arrive just in time for the final

TV

Sky Sports 1, from 11am.

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