Go Dutch for 40-over profits

  • By: Dave Tickner
  • Last Updated: May 1 2013, 19:57 BST

Dave Tickner believes Holland and their star batsman Tom Cooper can spring a shock in the Yorkshire Bank 40 this season.

Tom Cooper: Quality player available at a big price

The county 40-over competition returns with a slight name change this season, but alas still saddled with perhaps the worst format in the sport.

The Clydesdale Bank 40 is now the Yorkshire Bank 40, but we've still got three seven-team groups with each team playing 12 games in the pursuit of top spot in their section.

One second-placed team will join the three group winners in the last four, but it still means there is minimal margin for error. Lose three games early and you are left facing a large number of dead games.

This is particularly worth bearing in mind for any team that has ambitions in the County Championship; a couple of early setbacks in the YB40 will quickly see the competition slide down the priority list.

The first thing to do is study the group draw. With an open draw to place the 18 first-class counties into three groups alongside the Unicorns, Scotland and Holland the quality of the pools can vary wildly.

It's a rudimentary measure, but using last year's finishing positions as a guide it quickly becomes clear that Group B is the strongest this year, containing the 2012 winners, Hampshire, as well as semi-finalists Lancashire and Group B runners-up Surrey. And, although they disappointed last year, Essex are a team not to be written off in one-day cricket.

Any one of those teams could win this competition, but with qualification from the group so difficult - the probability that these teams take points off each other makes it unlikely the best runner-up will come from this section - we have to draw a line through them all.

Group A is also tough, featuring last year's beaten finalists Warwickshire, the other semi-finalist in Sussex (who have topped their group in each of the last two seasons) and dangerous one-day outfits like Kent and Notts.

Even the so-called minnows in this group, Holland, are not to be ruled out after mid-division finishes in each of the last two campaigns. Indeed, with the Dutch having won five matches in this tournament in each of the last two seasons - a record that puts plenty of the smaller county sides to shame - I can't resist throwing some small change at them to win the group at wrongly dismissive prices.

By far the weakest section, then, is Group C. Somerset are outright favourites on the back of being drawn in this pool which, while understandable, is short enough to put us off. An increasingly impressive Middlesex will also have their backers at double-figure prices after back-to-back second-place finishes (but no semi-final) in the group stages of this competition.

But their focus this year is clearly on a genuine tilt at the County Championship title, and that's also enough to put us off.

Yorkshire are also a quality side but may be pre-occupied with securing top-flight survival in the Championship and could see their batting severely weakened by England call-ups.

Gloucestershire are the side that appeal most in this group. They're a club with a proud one-day history and should see this competition as a real chance to impress.

A solid squad are unlikely to be competing for Championship promotion with four of their first five YB40 games against Leicestershire, Unicorns (twice) and Glamorgan there is every chance they will be the early pacesetters in this section.

While we don't expect them to win the tournament, they certainly look overpriced to win this group.

For a last bet, we return to the Dutch, who have again been dismissed in the top batsman market. It's important to note that this is not a true top bat market, but one featuring a limited list of just one player from each team apart from the Unicorns.

Therefore, in a field of just 20 runners, the Australian-born Tom Cooper is far too big at prices around 50/1 to top the run-charts.

In ODI cricket for Holland, Cooper averages well over 40 and, while most of those runs have come against fellow Associate nations, that is a record that demands respect at county level.

His List A stats also stand up to scrutiny - almost 3000 at a tick under 40 - and he looks a cracking each-way bet here.

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