After long-running English cricket competition the Benson & Hedges Cup came to an end in 2002, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) needed to fill the gap it left behind and so was born the Twenty20 Cup. Not only was the Twenty20 Cup a new one day cricket competition, but a whole new cricket format. Due to shrinking crowds and sponsorships in cricket, the RCB recognised the need to devise a way to get cricket fans excited about the sport again, as well as attract and develop a new generation of cricket lovers.
The solution was Twenty20 cricket, a format of the sport where each team has a single innings with 20 overs to outscore the other. The 'shortened' format of Twenty20 cricket allows the players to up the pace and take more chances, and in doing so liven up the game for cricket fans. The ECB held the first Twenty20 Cup in 2003, which was won by the Surrey Lions and was an instant success. So much so, that most other cricketing nations now also boast domestic Twenty20 competitions, and every two years compete in the international World Twenty20 Tournament.
With its group stage and knockout format, 18 teams take part in the Twenty20 Cup split into three divisions: Northern Division - Derbyshire Phantoms, Durham Dynamos, Leicestershire Foxes, Lancashire Lightning, Nottinghamshire Outlaws and Yorkshire Carnegie. Southern Division - Essex Eagles, Hampshire Hawks, Kent Spitfires, Middlesex Panthers, Surrey Brown Caps and Sussex Sharks. Mid / West / Wales Division - Glamorgan Dragons, Gloucestershire Gladiators, Northamptonshire Steelbacks, Somerset Sabres, Warwickshire Bears and Worcestershire Royals.