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Twenty20 Cup returns on Monday

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The all-singing, all-dancing Twenty20 Cup is back with a bang next week, kicking off on Bank Holiday Monday.

Eight fixtures across the country will fire up this year’s campaign with holders Middlesex Panthers in action at Lord’s against Surrey Brown Caps.

The tournament will retain its four official partners from last year – npower, Marston’s, totesport and Yorkshire/Clydesdale Bank.

Middlesex

Middlesex Panthers, who have changed their name from Crusaders, are out to defend their 2008 Twenty20 Cup title

This year sees the tournament split into four stages and culminates with Finals Day on Saturday 15 August at Edgbaston.

The first stage will run from May 25 to June 4 with the second stage, which lasts a week, starting on June 22. So by June 28 all eight quarter-finalists will be decided.

The quarter-finals will take place over three days on July 27-29, with two games scheduled for July 28.

As ever the counties are putting their power behind this competition and this year sees the stakes raised even higher than before.

MCC have newly-installed, state-of-the-art £2.7million retractable floodlights ready to use for the late fixture between holders Middlesex Panthers and Kent Spitfires on May 27.

Nottinghamshire Outlaws have a variety of activities planned for their first stage home fixtures, including an attempt for the world’s largest picnic at their national family week as well as a special guest appearance by one of their most famous personalities, Robin Hood.

Lord's

The state-of-the-art £2.7million retractable floodlights at Lord's will be used when the Panthers host Kent Spitfires on May 27

Durham Dynamos are enticing their student population with an offer on Friday 29 May that will be hard to refuse, which includes a ticket, a pint and entry to a local nightclub.

On May 31 they switch their attention to the family market and are offering a family afternoon which includes pony rides, face painters and the “best seat in the house” which is back by popular demand.

Glamorgan Dragons are putting on a ladies day on May 30 and treating the fairer sex to a day of champagne and pampering while a beer and balti is on offer on June 4.

Essex Eagles are playing host to local commercial radio DJ – DJ Dom – while Gloucestershire Gladiators are offering free coaching to budding youngsters as well as a barbecue and face painting.

All this in addition to the action on the field promises that this year’s Twenty20 Cup is going to be as big as ever.

First round fixtures:

Glamorgan Dragons v Somerset Sabres - the SWALEC Stadium
Hampshire Hawks v Sussex Sharks - the Rose Bowl
Kent Spitfires v Essex Eagles - Canterbury
Middlesex Panthers v Surrey Brown Caps - Lord’s
Northamptonshire Steelbacks v Warwickshire Bears - Northampton
Nottinghamshire Outlaws v Durham Dynamos - Trent Bridge
Worcestershire Royals v Gloucestershire Gladiators - New Road
Yorkshire Carnegie v Leicestershire Foxes - Headingley Carnegie

The Twenty20 Cup is part of the Great Exhibition, which is a celebration of 2009's massive summer of cricket in England and Wales and aims to get more people than ever before playing, watching and following cricket. To find out more, visit www.ecb.co.uk/tge

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