Dominic Cork and Nick Knight preview the CB40 final between Hampshire and Warwickshire.
Last Updated: 14/09/12 10:43am
The stakes will be doubled when Twenty20 victors Hampshire take on County Championship winners Warwickshire in Saturday's CB40 Final at Lord's.
This season's masters of cricket's shortest format meet England's most formidable four-day side in a 40-over feast that should provide a show-stopping finale to the domestic schedule.
As part of the build-up, England captain Alastair Cook and international team-mate Jonathan Trott - unable to play for Warwickshire due to injury - will join Ian Ward in the Sky Sports studio.
Before then Dominic Cork - man-of-the-match in Hampshire's 2009 Friends Provident Trophy victory at Headquarters - and Nick Knight, who won the 1995 NatWest Trophy with Warwickshire at Lord's, assess the counties aiming to end the season in style....
Corky on Hampshire...
Hampshire can already feel very proud of their performances this year and now they have the chance to win the double for the first time in their history. The club has turned things around very nicely after the disappointment of losing in last year's Twenty20 semi-finals and getting relegated to Division Two of the County Championship. They've managed to correct one of those wrongs by beating Yorkshire on Finals Day at the Swalec to win the Friends Life t20 title for the second time in three years and if they win another trophy on Saturday they'll thoroughly deserve it.
It's fair to say that this team probably understands one-day cricket better than four-day cricket and they work extremely well together. A Lord's final is always a big occasion and it's in Hampshire's favour that most of their players have experience of competing - and winning - showpiece matches.
Michael Carberry and James Vince are very good players who know their respective games well and they each have well over 500 runs to their name in this competition to prove it. Vince goes into the game off the back of a hundred against Derbyshire in the County Championship and although Carberry missed out in that game he remains a very dangerous player, as his 36-ball 68 against Sussex in the semi-final proves. When you bowl at him you know you have to be meticulous with your line and length because his natural talent means he can easily turn a very good ball into a very poor one. These two have really stepped up since Michael Lumb left to join Nottinghamshire, while skipper Jimmy Adams has weighed in with some valuable runs too and he, along with Simon Katich and Neil McKenzie, is another potential match-winner.
McKenzie is a very calm, committed player who always understands the situation - qualities that filter through the side when he's playing. Hampshire looked almost dead and buried in this year's Friends Life t20 quarter-final against Nottinghamshire but McKenzie stepped up and played the type of innings we all know he can play. Dimitri Mascarenhas is another experienced campaigner and if Hampshire can patch him up again, he should be good for wickets and quick runs down the order.
Hampshire will be without their leading wicket-taker Danny Briggs, who is on England duty at the ICC World Twenty20, and his absence does leave a big hole to fill but Hampshire have a good youth structure in place that allows younger players to feel very welcome and at home in the first team. One of those is left-arm spinner Liam Dawson; he's worked hard on his bowling this year and will relish the challenge. He, like whoever plays on Saturday, will know how to respond when times get tough as they surely will.
Nick on Warwickshire...
Warwickshire are high on confidence after winning the County Championship and, like Hampshire, also know how to win a Lord's final, as they did in 2010 when Ian Bell scored a match-winning century. Confidence plays a huge part when you go to Lord's - it's easy to look at averages and at the quality of the players on the team-sheet - but as we've seen with Somerset, dominating your Group doesn't mean you can handle the big occasion when it's all about holding your nerve.
I never doubt Warwickshire in that department. If they don't win the final, it will be because they've been outplayed rather than they've bottled it. From the moment you first arrive at the club you get the feeling that it's your duty to bring back trophies, which creates a healthy atmosphere to play in.
The return of Bell and Jeetan Patel will inevitably add a sprinkle of stardust to the side even allowing for Jonathan Trott's unfortunate absence. Patel is back after playing for New Zealand against India and I know that he's desperate to contribute again after his 51 wickets played such a major part in winning the Championship. Patel's also a fantastic one-day bowler, so he'll add a lot of experience and skill; you should never question his ability to produce something special on the big stage.
Warwickshire's problem - and it's a nice problem to have - is who do they leave out? That's a gut feeling for those who are picking the side. Varun Chopra has scored over 1,000 first-class runs this season and his hundred helped to see Lancashire off in the semi-finals, while Will Porterfield has played well for Ireland this year and has scored almost 400 runs in the competition, so he'll be tough to overlook too.
There are plenty of bowling options too. Keith Barker and Chris Wright have both had outstanding Championship seasons, sharing 108 wickets, while Ian Blackwell is an excellent loan signing - plus Rikki Clarke and Darren Maddy are more than handy performers on their day. Throw Patel into the mix and Steffan Piolet, who drifts in and out of the side and is a very effective one-day bowler, and there's more than enough variety.
The players will know that Warwickshire enjoyed a golden spell in the mid-nineties, winning the treble in 1994 and the double in 1995 but I think that will be an inspiration rather than foster any concern about emulating the feats of the past. These players who have come to the club expecting to win silverware and they won't be far away again on Saturday.
Join Ian Ward plus special guests Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott this Saturday for the CB40 final between Hampshire and Warwickshire, live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 11am.