Essex, in form and with several match winners in their line-up, look good value at 14-1 with bet365.com to win this seasonís Twenty20 Cup.
Essex, in form and with several match winners in their line-up, look good value at 14-1 with bet365.com to win this seasonís Twenty20 Cup, which gets under way on Wednesday night.
The competition has proved a huge hit since its arrival two years ago and advance ticket sales suggest this summer will be no different. Not surprisingly, it has again been expanded with counties now playing all their group rivals home and away before the best eight teams move into a new quarter-final round.
That should mean good news for punters because the better teams will have longer to find their stride and have fewer excuses not to progress.
Essex have made little impact in previous years but their form in this seasonís National League One - they are hot favourites to take the title after winning all six of their completed matches - indicates they are not short of one-day performers.
The capture of Darren Gough, from Yorkshire, is an obvious difference from 12 months ago and Essex have other established class acts in their team such as the Flower brothers (Andy and Grant) as well as big-hitting Ronnie Irani.
Former England fast bowler Alex Tudor has yet to prove his worth to the county, but youngsters such as Alastair Cook, Ravinder Bopara and Will Jefferson look destined for higher things.
Essex, as short as 9-1 with Coral, begin their Twenty20 campaign with a match away to Sussex on Wednesday night and will have played Kent and Sussex at home by the end of the weekend. They are a tempting 5-1 to win their group with totesport, even though it also contains Surrey, Hampshire and Middlesex.
Surrey, winners of the competition in 2003 and runners-up last year, are as short as 2-1 to win the group and are no bigger than 8-1 to go all the way. However, their one-day form this season has been poor and, at the prices, they have to be opposed.
Leicestershire, the holders, are 16-1 to retain their crown. They begin their defence with a match (being shown live on Sky Sports) against Nottinghamshire at Grace Road. The Foxes are evens with Blue Square, with Nottinghamshire the same price with Skybet.
The quarter-finals will be played on July 18 with finals day - featuring the two semis and the final - being held at the Oval on July 30.
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