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  • Glamorgan v Nottinghamshire, YB40 final, Lord's

Unusual suspects for 40-over curtain call

The Preview by Alan Gardner
September 20, 2013
Nottinghamshire's leading YB40 run-scorers, Samit Patel and James Taylor, saw them home in the semi-final against Somerset © Getty Images
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So, farewell then, 40-over cricket (until you reappear at some point down the line). History will need to come with its notebook and pen to Lord's on Saturday, when Glamorgan and Nottinghamshire will contest the final of the Yorkshire Bank 40, the last time the competition is played in its current form before the return in England of 50-over domestic cricket next season.

The rise of Twenty20 has steadily diminished the presence of one-day cricket in the calendar - little more than a decade ago, counties would compete for three List A titles: NatWest/C&G Trophy, Benson & Hedges Cup and National League. The B&H was stubbed out as Twenty20 came into being and four years ago the remaining two competitions were amalgamated.

The change of sponsor this year from Clydesdale to Yorkshire Bank led some wags to dub it the Why Bother 40, but 40-over cricket, which began with the John Player League back in 1969, continues to be a draw for the public. The counties had stubbornly resisted attempts to revert to a 50-over tournament but, with team England increasingly flexing its financial muscle and protection of the Championship taking on a higher priority, an agreement with the ECB was reached.

Some argue that playing 50-over cricket in occasionally damp, seaming conditions doesn't really aid England's chances at global tournaments (unless they are at home). You can go further, and suggest that the added pressure of having to score at a higher rate for a shorter period has helped to create some of England's more destructive current players, such as Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan, Luke Wright.

That is just as likely to have been the effect of T20, however, and those that have played internationally are particularly inclined to espouse the benefits of reflecting the ODI template in England's domestic game.

"I've enjoyed it but I think it's key for young lads coming through, or anyone who gets an opportunity to play for England, that they're playing the right cricket," says Simon Jones, the former England seamer who is hoping for a winning send-off with Glamorgan at Lord's.

"Fifty overs is what they play at international level and I think that's what should happen at county level, just to prepare people. You're bowling ten overs rather than eight, the Powerplays are different, there are different strategies, it's a totally different game. I think they've made a bold decision to go back to 50-over cricket and I think it's the right one."

It is probably fair to say that the two counties who have reached the YB40 final do not have outstanding one-day CVs, however many overs are involved - which makes the match-up all the more appealing from a neutral perspective. For all their respective excellence this year, Glamorgan and Nottinghamshire are the unusual suspects, with just a few pieces of one-day silver between them.

Nottinghamshire are firm favourites, their impressive squad bolstered by the availability of two of England's Ashes winners, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, though it is 24 years since the club last appeared in a Lord's showpiece, when they beat Essex to lift the B&H Cup. Notts won their sixth Championship in 2010 but only have three List A titles in their history, the most recent being the Sunday League in 1991. However, as the captain, Chris Read, says "over the last few years we've been improving in this form of the game".

Having won Group A, Nott crushed Somerset by eight wickets in their semi-final. In James Taylor and Samit Patel they have two England internationals with over 500 YB40 runs this season; in Michael Lumb and Alex Hales, they have England's T20 openers; at No. 5, there is David Hussey, veteran of more than 100 limited-overs internationals for Australia.

Although a back injury has ruled out their joint-leading wicket-taker, Jake Ball, Swann and Broad are likely to provide a high-class sticking plaster. Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire's director of cricket, has said they will play the "best eleven players" and that could see Broad make his 40-over debut for the county, with his only previous List A appearance coming in the 2008 FP Trophy. How well a bowler with 160 ODI wickets (out of 185 in List A cricket) makes the quick switch down from 50-over competition will be an interesting subplot.

For Glamorgan, who booked their place in the final by beating the reigning champions, Hampshire, on their own turf, there will be fewer selection issues. Marcus North, the limited-overs captain this year, has left to take part in Perth Scorchers' Champions League campaign but in Michael Hogan they have the tournament's leading wicket-taker and Jim Allenby a one-day allrounder fit to lace Dimitri Mascarenhas's (recently hung-up) boots. Ben Wright has been dismissed twice for 165 runs at a strike rate of 133.06 and Chris Cooke has also hit the 500-run mark.

Glamorgan's journey to London should also be a little less arduous, though Notts avoided having to fly down from Durham on the eve of the final by contriving to be heavily beaten inside three days. Whatever the result at Chelmsford, it is only an hour's drive up the A12. The Welsh county will doubtless be greeted by an armada of passionate supporters who have made a significantly longer journey from the west. It is 13 years since they lost to out in the B&H Cup to Gloucestershire and their only other final appearance, in 1977, also ended in defeat. There will plenty hoping Glamorgan can lose their white-ball cherry at Lord's.

On the 50th anniversary of Sussex lifting the inaugural Gillette Cup, another chapter in the story of domestic one-day cricket is about to come to a close.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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