Hampshire Royals to defend their T20 crown?
Hampshire Royals, the 2012 Twenty champions, are 7/4 favourites with Coral to become the first county to successfully defend their title at Edgbaston tomorrow.
The Friends Life T20 Final is due to get under way at 6.45pm, but a full house will first be entertained by Essex Eagles (11/4) and Northants Steelbacks (7/2) in the first semi-final and then by Hampshire’s mouth-watering clash with Surrey (3/1) in the afternoon session.
Surrey were the first champions of this competition ten years ago and any concerns that T20 would be a passing fad have long been dispelled, not least this summer when ‘Sold Out’ notices went up at several venues, including at the Oval, where 27,000 cheered on old rivals Surrey and Middlesex in a Group clash.
Hampshire were available with Coral at 12/1 early this summer, but have again emerged as the team to beat in this short form with a string of impressive performances. Mind you, they were only one big hit away from missing out on this weekend’s party after Lancashire Lightening got to within one run of an imposing 202 for 3 in last week’s fabulous quarter-final at the Rose Bowl.
The south coast outfit’s huge total was down in the main to Michael Carberry, a batsman who brings some culture to the Bish Bash Bosh. His brilliant century, secured with a scrambled two off the last ball, was by no means the first time the once-capped England international has delivered a match-winning contribution for his side and Coral rate him a 9/4 chance to again outscore his colleagues, which include his free-scoring opening partner, James Vince (100/30) and Jimmy Adams, who top scored for Hampshire in last year’s Final.
Surrey have some big hitters of their own, including Jason Roy (100/30) and Vikram Solanki (4/1), but the loss of their captain, Gareth Batty, banned for two games after some onfield argy-bargy in their quarter-final against Somerset, is a setback on what was already a tough assignment. Coral go 4/6 Hampshire, 5/4 Surrey.
Neither Essex nor Northants have ever won the T20, but both teams looked good in the quarter finals and will be fancying their chances of going all the way. Essex beat Notts Outlaws comprehensively at Trent Bridge, thanks largely to a rapid 82 from Ryan Ten Doeschate (11/2 to top score again) and a hat-trick from Shaun Tait.
Northants, available at 33/1 at the start of the competition, have been the surprise packet, but nobody will want to be on the other side of Australian all-rounder, Cameron White, if he is in the same sort of mood as he was when blasting a 27-ball half century to help sink Durham Dynamos in the last eight tie.
White is 3/1 with Coral to top score for the Steelbacks in a game that promises to go to the wire. Essex just shade favouritism here at 4/5, but perhaps Northants (evens) will edge it before finding Hampshire and Carberry a bridge too far in the Final.
Written by Jon Freeman