Just in case any of today's four semi-finalists needed a further incentive to win the Twenty20 Cup aside from the glory of being crowned victors, they have been handed one. Actually two hundred thousand big ones.
The Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford has invited England's new Twenty20 Champions to take part in a quadrangular tournament – the Stanford Super Series – involving England, a Stanford Super Stars XI and Trinidad & Tobago.
The Super Series is a warm-up for the main event, the £10m winner-takes-all match between England and a Caribbean Select XI, sponsored by Stanford. He has also guaranteed the English Champions and Trinidad & Tobago (the Caribbean title holders) £50,000 each just for taking part, with a further £100,000 going to the winner of the match between the two domestic champions. When that is added to the £42,000 awaiting the winners of this evening's Twenty20 Cup final it is not far short of a potential £200,000 for the new English champions. Durham, Essex, Kent and Middlesex are all competing for the Twenty20 title, with the runners-up receiving £21,000, and the losing semi-finalists £10,000 each.
England batsman Kevin Pietersen, whose county Hampshire failed to qualify for Finals Day, said: "It's fantastic for us [England] players to have the opportunity on 1 November [the date of the winner-takes-all match] against the All Stars and then for the county players too. Everything is happening at once."
The England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive David Collier insisted that the proposed Champions League, which will involve both of today's Twenty20 finalists, would go ahead, despite India's cricket chiefs saying that county sides who fielded players who took part in the outlawed Indian Cricket League would not be permitted to take part in it.
Stanford Super Series dates
*25 October: Stanford Super Stars v Trinidad & Tobago
*26 October: England v Twenty20 Cup winners
*27 October: Trinidad & Tobago v Twenty20 Cup winners
*28 October: England v Trinidad & Tobago
*29 October: Stanford Super Stars v Twenty20 Cup Winners
*1 November: Stanford Super Stars v England