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The Cricketer previews the start of the 50-over competition as Hampshire bid to retain their title they won by beating Kent at Lord's last June
The second tournament in the domestic cricket season begins tomorrow as the 2019 Royal London One-Day Cup kicks off with six fixtures.
Will Hampshire be able to defend the crown they claimed in 2018?
The Royal London One-Day Cup is English domestic cricket’s List A, 50 overs a side, one-day tournament.
The Royal London One-Day Cup runs across five-and-a-half weeks starting on Wednesday, April 17. The competition has been moved forward primarily to accommodate the World Cup, which begins on May 30.
The final was brought forward from its traditional end-of-season slot in September, in 2017, as the county calendar was revamped to group the fixtures from the various formats closer together.
Following the conclusion of the group stage, the quarter-finals between the second and third place teams from each section are on Friday, May 10. The winners progress to the last four, where they face those sides who finished top of the regional divisions on Sunday, May 12. The final is scheduled for Saturday, May 25 at Lord's.
Can Hants retain their crown?
All 18 first-class counties are involved in the Royal London One-Day Cup with the sides split into two groups of nine based on a geographical north-south divide.
Each side plays eight matches, one against every other team in its group, with every county receiving four home fixtures. The top team in each group automatically qualifies for the semi-finals while the second and third-placed teams face off against their corresponding number in the opposite group in quarter-finals.
The winners both play one of the group victors in the semi-finals before the final at Lord's.
The Royal London One-Day Cup follows the standard 50 overs per side format where no bowler can bowl more than 10.
In each innings, the first 10 overs constitute powerplay one where only two fielders are permitted outside of the 30-yard circle.
In the second powerplay, no more than five can be positioned outside this perimeter and must be taken by the start of the 41st over.
Between overs 11 to 41 a maximum of four fielders are allowed outside of the 30-yard circle.
For any no balls bowled, two runs are awarded to the batting team, along with an extra ball which would be a free hit. All regulations could change in the event of lost overs due to inclement weather.
In the group stage, two points are awarded for a win, with one given in the event of a tie or no result. In the event of a tie in a play-off match, semi-final or final, a Super Over will determine the winner. Number of wickets lost in the inning does not apply.
In the event two or more sides finish on the same number of points in the group phase, most wins then net run-rate across the competition will determine who finishes higher.
Heino Kuhn top scored in last year's competition
The 2019 Royal London One-Day Cup can be followed on TV via Sky Sports Cricket HD (Sky channel 404) who will be showing selected fixtures across the competition including the final on May 25 at Lord's.
The confirmed televised games so far are:
Kent v Hampshire - Wednesday, April 17 on Sky Sports Cricket from 12.30pm BST
Sussex v Surrey – Friday, April 21 on Sky Sports Cricket from 12.55pm BST
Middlesex Sussex – Saturday, April 27 on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.55am BST
Worcestershire v Warwickshire – Sunday, April 28 on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.55am BST
Northamptonshire v Yorkshire – Wednesday May 1 on Sky Sports Cricket from 12.55pm BST
Matt Parkinson was constantly in among the wickets for Lancashire
The winners in 2017 and T20 Blast quarter-finalists last year Nottinghamshire are the bookmakers' favourite to prevail.
Defending champions Hants are next in the pecking order but no side has won back-to-back titles since Sussex in 2009.
County Championship holders Surrey and Yorkshire are the next contenders, though the latter remain without an overseas player for the tournament.
Worcestershire, who won the T20 Blast and reached the last four in the 50-over format, are good value for another run in the competition.
There have been five different winners in each of the last five years, and with it being crammed into the schedule in 2019 after so little cricket has been played, this year promises to be another open competition.
Hampshire and Nottinghamshire's recent record in the white-ball arena makes them the outstanding favourites to meet in the final.
Lancashire, with Glenn Maxwell enlisted at their overseas player, could be the team to watch during the early weeks of the campaign, before the Australian turns his attention to the World Cup. Ross Taylor's appearance at Middlsex should also be a highlight.