Attention turns to the shortest format of the game this weekend as the first round of Nat West Women's County T20 fixtures are played across the country on Sunday.
This year the same four division format has been retained from last year, but this year all 9 teams in each division will play each other in a league structure over four separate Sundays. Three teams meet at one venue and play each other in three games on the same day (10.30am, 2.00pm and 5.00pm).
The teams in Div 1 this year are :-
Berkshire, Ireland, Kent, Middlesex, Notts, Somerset, Surrey, Sussex and Yorkshire.
The first round of fixtures are on Sunday 14th June. The Div 1 fixtures are :-
Berkshire, Ireland and Kent at Finchampstead CC
Kent (runners-up last year) are likely to be at full-strength for this first round of games and Charlotte Edwards and the rest of her England contracted players must be favourites to come out with two wins, against Berkshire, who should have Heather Knight and Alex Blackwell at the top of their order, and newcomers to Div 1 T20 Ireland. But Kent have been known to slip up in T20 games and could do so again. Ireland have had a bit of mixed start to their season in Div 2, but they might fancy their chances against Berks. It could be a tight battle, but I think Berks will just come out on top.
Middlesex, Notts and Somerset at Edmonton CC
Notts and Middlesex made it to the final three last year, and Notts won the trophy after all three teams won one of their two games on Finals Day. Middlesex demolished Kent, but then got blown away by Notts. Notts lost to Kent, but by only 2 runs, so their NRR was the best of the three teams.
If Notts are at full strength they will be difficult to beat and they really like this format of the game. Watch out for some explosive hitting from young Georgie Boyce, England's Danni Wyatt and Aussie Zoe Richards for Notts. Somerset were promoted from Div 2 of the T20 competition last year as runners-up to Ireland, but this year they have South Africa's Lizelle Lee opening the batting for them. If she gets going it could be carnage. Middlesex are capable of beating anybody on their day, so all three games should be crackers. If you are near to Edmonton CC get down there.
Surrey, Sussex and Yorkshire at Horsley & Send CC
These three teams battled it out for 4th, 5th and 6th last year on Finals Day with Yorkshire just winning out over Sussex. Yorkshire's Lauren Winfield, Katherine Brunt and Alex Macdonald can all give the ball a thump, but they will be up against Sussex's class bowling attack, and Surrey's demon leg-spinner Sarah Clarke and Kiwi Rachel Candy. Will it be the bowlers or the batsmen that come out on top? Don't forget Surrey have England batsman Nat Sciver in their ranks and Sussex have Sarah Taylor - just the ICC's Number Four ranked batsmen in the world! One good performance either way could settle each contest, which should make the day great to watch for the neutral.
The teams in Div 2 this year are:-
Cheshire, Derbyshire, Durham, Essex, Lancashire Netherlands, Staffordshire, Wales, Warwickshire
The Div 2 fixtures are :-
Cheshire, Durham and Wales at Timperley CC
Wales who finished fifth overall in Div of the T20 last year could kick-start their campaign with two wins this Sunday against Cheshire (6th last year) and Durham (7th last year). The Cheshire v Durham game is likely to be tight, but Durham might just come out on top.
Derbyshire, Essex and Lancs at Denby CC
Derbyshire won T20 Div 3 last year and have therefore been promoted. They will have their work cut out to get much out of Lancs or Essex. But Lancs are having a bit of a torrid time in Div 1 of the County Championship and Essex are struggling in Div 2, so these games might be closer than one might imagine. Derbyshire have nothing to lose and will no doubt give it their all.
Staffs, Netherlands and Warwickshire at Fordhouses CC
Netherlands were the other team promoted from Div 3 of last year's T20 tournament - runners-up to Derbyshire, but both Staffs and Warwickshire will feel they can win T20 Div 2 and are unlikely to show them any mercy. The Staffs v Warks game will probably be the best in Div 2 this weekend.