Solanki tips Gladiators for Twenty20 Cup glory

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Worcestershire captain Vikram Solanki rates Gloucestershire as one of the favourites for the Twenty20 Cup.

Solanki's men host the Gladiators in the Mid/West Wales Division tomorrow (5.40pm), the first game for both sides in the competition.

Solanki said: “Gloucestershire have got a number of guys who are capable of taking the game away from us and we've got a lot of respect for them.

“The likes of Spearman, Marshall, Lewis and Gidman are all match-winners, and the match-up between them and our star players like Graeme Hick and Simon Jones should be exciting.

“Gloucestershire got the better of us in the Friends Provident Trophy at Bristol, but the game at New Road was rained off, so I don't think we can read too much into that.”

This season's finalists will qualify for the new Champions League in September, which will feature the top Twenty20 teams from India, Australia and South Africa and have a first prize of £2.5 million.

Gloucestershire vice-captain Alex Gidman is excited by the prospect but wary of looking too far ahead.

“We've all read about the idea for a Champions League and there's no doubt that we desperately want to be part of it,” said Gidman.

“It may be that the team who copes best with the pressure of the whole tournament will end up winning it, so it's really important we stay calm and focused on getting through the group stage first.

“The start is very important, as I do believe that getting a couple of wins under your belt early can allow you to get into a rhythm.”

Gloucestershire go into the competition on the back of a Championship defeat at Northamptonshire, where a final-day batting collapse handed the hosts the initiative.

“We seem to be a very good three-day team at the moment and not a great four-day team,” said Gidman.
“I can't quite put my finger on why that is, but we don't seem to be learning that a bad hour against any opposition can put us right up against it.

“We're a pretty wounded animal at the moment, so it's probably not a bad thing that we can take our mind off the red ball for a couple of weeks and have a crack at something we know we're very good at.

“Worcestershire have some serious match-winners and we're looking forward to mixing it with them in their back yard.”
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