A boom year for Twenty20 cricket reaches its climax with a 25,000 full house expected at Edgbaston today, following on the heels of a 76 per cent increase in overall attendances compared with 2012.
Northamptonshire meet Essex in the opening semi-final (11am) before Surrey take on the defending champions Hampshire (2.30pm) to determine who meets in this evening’s final (6.45pm). Here is the low-down on the four contenders.
Twenty20 pedigree Semi-finalists three times.
Route to final Scraped into quarter-finals only as one of the best third-placed teams in the group stage, but then thrashed fancied Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge to reach last four.
Most runs Owais Shah 311
Highest score Hamish Rutherford 84 v Sussex (Hove)
Most wickets Reece Topley 19
Best bowling Graham Napier 4-18 v Surrey (Chelmsford)
Danger men Ryan ten Doeschate, Shaun Tait.
Chances Essex have hit highs and lows in 2013 – bowled out for 20 by Lancashire in the Championship in June but superb in their T20 quarter-final against Notts, when Ten Doeschate hit a brilliant 82 and former Australian fast bowler Tait took a hat-trick. But Shah is injured.
Twenty20 pedigree Semi-finalists once.
Route to final After winning only three matches out of a total of 26 over 2011-12, Northants confounded expectations by winning five of their first six this season and never looked back, beating Durham comfortably in the quarter-final.
Most runs Cameron White 327.
Highest score Richard Levi 110 not out v Gloucestershire (Cheltenham)
Most wickets Muhammad Azharullah 24.
Best bowling Azharullah 4-14 v Glamorgan (Northampton), Graeme White 4-14 v Gloucestershire (Northampton).
Danger men David Willey, Kyle Coetzer.
Chances Outsiders in the betting but Levi and White are two of Twenty20’s most explosive batsmen and Azharullah is leading wicket-taker in the competition this season, so cannot be taken lightly.
Twenty20 pedigree Winners twice (2010 and 2012).
Route to final Virtually untouchable in the group stage, they were given a real fright in the quarter-finals when Lancashire failed by only two runs to chase down 203 to win.
Most runs Michael Carberry 496.
Highest score Michael Carberry, left, 100 not out v Lancashire (The Rose Bowl)
Most wickets Danny Briggs 14.
Best bowling Liam Dawson 4-19 v Kent (Canterbury)
Danger men Sohail Tanvir, Neil McKenzie, James Vince.
Chances Going for their second consecutive limited-overs double, Hampshire are the complete one-day team, combining high-scoring batsmen with crafty bowlers – none more so than captain Dimitri Mascarenhas, playing in his last Twenty20 after announcing his retirement. The team to beat.
Twenty20 pedigree Inaugural winners in 2003.
Route to final Second to Hampshire in the South group despite a modest return from box office signing Ricky Ponting, Surrey upset the form book by overcoming Somerset in the quarter-finals.
Most runs Jason Roy 272.
Highest score Steven Davies 95 not out v Kent (Canterbury)
Most wickets Jade Dernbach 16.
Best bowling Zander de Bruyn 4-19 v Essex (Chelmsford)
Danger men Azhar Mahmood, Glenn Maxwell.
Chances Surrey lost to Hampshire twice in the group stage and Gareth Batty’s suspension after his quarter-final altercation with Somerset’s Peter Trego does not help their chances. But the England limited-overs fast bowler Jade Dernbach could swing it for them.