Essex, Hampshire, Northants and Surrey battle for FLt20 glory

FLt20 finals day

  • Venue: Edgbaston
  • Date: Saturday, 17 August
  • Start: 11:00 BST

Coverage: BBC Sport online, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC local radio

Essex, Hampshire, Northamptonshire and Surrey will all be vying for FLt20 glory on Saturday when finals day takes place at Edgbaston.

Hampshire head into the showpiece occasion as the bookies favourites, as they look to defend the trophy they won in Cardiff last year and secure a third domestic Twenty20 title in four years.

Surrey, who won the inaugural competition at Trent Bridge 10 years ago, will be targeting only their second T20 crown.

Essex and Northants, meanwhile, will be attempting to lift the trophy for the first time, having never gone beyond the semi-final stage before.

One of them is guaranteed to go a step further this year as they meet in Saturday's first semi at 11:00 BST, with the Hampshire v Surrey match scheduled to start at 14:30 BST, before the final at 18:45 BST.

BBC Sport reviews the chances of each of the four teams involved.

SEMI-FINAL 1: NORTHANTS v ESSEX

NORTHANTS

Most runs: Cameron White 327

Most wickets: Azharullah 24

Highest total: 206-3 v Glos

Best score: Richard Levi 110no

BBC Northampton's Chris Egerton: "If there is to be a Cinderella story at Edgbaston's big dance, the shoe might just fit for unfancied, unfashionable, little old Northants.

Northants

"The county hadn't won a white ball game at Wantage Road for two years, but once the duck was broken in May, Northants haven't looked back.

"Despite defeats at Taunton and narrowly at Edgbaston, they won the group when many underestimated them. One bookmaker even offered ridiculous odds of 33-1 on a Northants T20 crown, despite a five-match winning streak in the YB40 competition.

"While a top order with Richard Levi and Cameron White hasn't always worked, the bowling is the key.

"David Willey has been muscular with the new ball, but the star is the unheralded Muhammad Azharullah. Plucked out of Yorkshire club cricket, where he played alongside James Middlebrook's father, Azharullah's pace and full length has been the difference. Anyone with 24 wickets at a strike rate of a wicket every 10 balls deserves respect.

"Northants are dark horses for a first trophy since 1992 and they may adapt better to the big stage than many people think. If the batting can fire, their bowling is good enough to give anyone a game - including Hampshire."

ESSEX

Most runs: Owais Shah 311

Most wickets: Reece Topley 19

Highest total: 187-6 v Notts

Best score: Hamish Rutherford 84

BBC Essex's Glenn Speller: "Despite their best efforts at messing things up in the final group game, Essex squeezed into the quarter-finals and then produced their best all-round performance to dispose of Nottinghamshire in the last eight.

Essex

"Essex have been reliant upon individuals pulling them through matches in this year's tournament with notable contributions from Graham Napier, Reece Topley, Ryan ten Doeschate and Owais Shah.

"The big blow for the Eagles is the absence of Shah. Averaging more than 50 in T20 cricket, he's out injured, while Ravi Bopara's side injury limits him to just a batting role.

"This is Essex's fourth appearance at finals day but they are yet to win a match. In fact, Essex have never been beyond early afternoon having always lost the first semi-final.

"If this is to be their year they'll need a similar performance to that at Trent Bridge. Hamish Rutherford is due a big score, while Greg Smith's role as opener has proved profitable.

"Shaun Tait's raw pace has excited the crowds and he took a hat-trick against Notts, and Topley's ability to handle the pressure has been impressive and he could further enhance his growing reputation.

"Having once dominated one-day cricket, the T20 title remains the one piece of silverware Essex are yet to capture. This could be their year but they can't keep relying on individuals."

SEMI-FINAL 2: HAMPSHIRE v SURREY

HAMPSHIRE

Most runs: Michael Carberry 496

Most wickets: Danny Briggs 14

Highest total: 202-3 v Lancs

Best score: Michael Carberry 100no

BBC Radio Solent's Kevan James: "In the absence of Craig Kieswetter at Edgbaston, Michael Carberry arrives at finals day as the leading run scorer, with 496 in the tournament.

Hampshire

"If you add together his recent form in the County Championship and overall performances in the YB40, he's just about the most-feared batsman in England right now.

"Then, of course, comes Hampshire's previous in this competition. Their recent record reads: 2010 winners, 2011 losing semi-finalists, 2012 winners, with their only blemish in the last three years coming at Edgbaston against Somerset. Coincidently, that was the second semi-final that day and Hampshire are again second on against Surrey at Edgbaston.

"In truth, however, that is just about the only small negative thing you can say about the team that have fast become the undisputed kings of T20 cricket in this country, having remarkably held the equal-worst record in this tournament prior to 2008."

SURREY

Most runs: Jason Roy 272

Most wickets: Jade Dernbach 16

Highest total: 178-7 v Middlesex

Best score: Steven Davies 95no

BBC London 94.9's Mark Church: "Surrey head into their first finals day since 2006 having played some excellent cricket to get themselves through the difficult South Group and a tough quarter-final against Somerset.

Surrey

"Their performances this year have been a real team effort and this has been key - somebody has always put their hand up when it has been needed.

"The interesting thing is the batting is yet to really fire as a unit. Individually, there have been some excellent performances with the bat but they are yet to really hurt an opposing team and they will be looking to change that on Saturday.

"With the ball they have been excellent and in Jade Dernbach and Azhar Mahmood they have two of best 'death' bowlers in the world.

"Surrey will miss Gareth Batty [through suspension] but there is enough experience in the squad to keep them focused on the job in hand and to not get too caught up in the excitement of finals day.

"Every player knows exactly what their job is and they will be relishing the opportunity to be centre stage on Saturday at Edgbaston. If they play to their best Surrey can lift the trophy again, 10 years after they won the competition in its first season back in 2003."