The Northern EchoFun and games at T20 finals day (From The Northern Echo)

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Fun and games at T20 finals day

This year's NEPL T20 competition reaches it's climax tomorrow when the Denton Bank ground of Benwell Hill hosts a finals day consisting of three matches.

The NEPL sides have played in two groups of six teams for the past five weeks to decide the four semi-finalists in the Co-operative Funeralcare-sponsored event, and the action gets underway at 11am with the first semi between South North and Durham Academy.

It's followed by Chester-le-Street's meeting with the hosts at 2pm, with the final scheduled for a 5.30 start.

NEPL chairman Keith Robson said: "Our clubs have embraced this competition since we introduced it and they continue the development of the T20 game.

"In our region, 20-over cricket has been played for the best part of a century and the growth of T20 has provided excellent entertainment at our grounds with good, exciting cricket.

"The league are grateful to the committee at Benwell Hill for the work they've done behind the scenes and we look forward to a fun, exciting day.''

As well as the action on the field supporters will be entertained by music, the Benwell barbecue will be fired up, and there will be a beer tent.

The Cestrians are at full strength, with Simon Birtwisle fit after recovering from a back spasm last weekend, but Benwell Hill will be missing two of their Northumberland players, Dan Young and Mark Dale, who will be on Minor Counties duty. Phil Nicholson plays as he eases himself back into action after a long injury lay-off.

South North's county players have opted to play for the club, so their only absentee will be Michael Craigs.

The Academy will almost certainly have to do without Rami Singh, who is in the England Under-19 squad this weekend, while Jamie Harrison has suffered a recurrence of the shin problems that have blighted much of his campaign.

On the positive side, the destructive Ben Raine will turn out despite being in Durham's first-team squad for this week's CB40 matches.

The prize for the winner of the T20 is qualification for the national rounds of the ECB T20 Club Cup, and games with Guisborough and York on the August 14.

The ultimate destination is national finals day at Chelmsford in September, an event televised live on Sky.

And following Cockspur's original decision to cease sponsorship at the end of the 2010 season there has been a re-think and they have stepped back in with support.

The national competition has already been renamed the Barbados Cockspur t20 Club Cup.

Clubs continue their league programme this morning with leaders Chester playing at Ashbrooke, where Sunderland hope to have Chris Rushworth available, while second-placed Blaydon have a full strength line-up for the home game against the Bulls.

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