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Stewart tips Bears for CB40 glory

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Watch the exclusive Clydesdale Bank 40 video interview with Alec Stewart

The Clydesdale Bank 40 begins on Sunday and former England captain and Clydesdale Bank ambassador Alec Stewart has been considering the fortunes of all 21 teams taking part and the players likely to set the competition alight.

The ECB is calling for fans to join the debate on the Official England Cricket-TwelfthMan Facebook page to nominate players to watch throughout the competition.

Stewart said: “It’s a difficult one to call because there are a lot of counties with plenty of talented players out there and all you need is to get on a bit of a roll and you can be in the semi-finals.

“I guess you’d say maybe Warwickshire as the holders would be favourites this year as well as 2010 runners-up Somerset.

“Hampshire could have a strong limited-overs side this year and I think Yorkshire are a very talented side - they are producing some very good players and could be a handful.

“I’m going to throw in my own side Surrey, who are a young squad with emerging talent and are going to play with no fear, which is what you need to do to win in limited-overs cricket.”

Stewart also identified four players to watch throughout the competition.

Warwickshire

Warwickshire savour their Clydesdale Bank 40 triumph at Lord's. Alec Stewart regards them as favourites to repeat the feat this year

Captain: Rory Hamilton-Brown (Surrey)
“He’s the youngest captain on the circuit and into his second year. I’m expecting big things from him and the Surrey side.”

Batsman: James Hildreth (Somerset)
“A big season for him, done well for Somerset, he’s had a good tour for England Lions, and he’s knocking on the door of the England side.”

Bowler: George Dockrell (Somerset)
“We’ve not seen him in county cricket yet and he’s recovering from an injury. He’s a young lad but with huge talent.”

Wicketkeeper: Steven Davies (Surrey)
“A very good gloveman who is improving all the time and an exceptionally exciting batsman.”

Taking part in the competition alongside the 18 first-class counties are Scotland, the Netherlands and the Unicorns.

Current champions Warwickshire Bears will begin the defence of their title with a trip to the Rose Bowl to face Hampshire Royals. Somerset, who were runners-up in 2010, travel to Trent Bridge to take on Nottinghamshire Outlaws.

The Clydesdale Bank 40 begins on Sunday April 24 with eight matches around the country. Teams have been drawn into three groups and will play each other home and away with the winners of each group and the runner-up with the highest points total qualifying for the semi-finals. The final will be played at Lord’s on Saturday 17 September.

For more information about the Clydesdale Bank 40, including fixtures and Stewart’s views on the competition in full, visit www.ecb.co.uk/ClydesdaleBank40.