London: English domestic Twenty20 champions Hampshire and runners-up Somerset will take part in the Caribbean T20 in the New Year it was announced on Tuesday.
The 2011 Caribbean T20, being held from January 10-23, involves Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Windward Islands and Combined Campuses and Colleges as well as Hampshire and Somerset.
The first round matches will take place at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds in Antigua, with the tournament concluding at the Kensington Oval in Barbados. The inaugural Caribbean T20 took place in July and was won by Guyana.
Hampshire, on their own Rose Bowl ground, beat Somerset in a thrilling English Twenty20 final in August by virtue of losing fewer wickets.
Ernest Hilare, chief executive of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), said: "The WICB is delighted to have again partnered with the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) on this progressive initiative.
"The participation of the two top Friends Provident t20 teams in CT20 will certainly enhance the tournament and heighten the excitement. "We look forward to keen contests between our Caribbean teams and Hampshire and Somerset and look forward to welcoming English fans to the fun and excitement of Caribbean style T20 cricket.
"Steve Elworthy, the ECB's communications director, said: "The Caribbean T20 rewards Hampshire Royals and Somerset for their hard work throughout the 2010 Friends Provident T20 campaign.
"It provides an excellent opportunity for both teams to experience playing in a different environment and test themselves against strong opposition," the former South Africa seamer added.
Both Hampshire and Somerset have longstanding links to Caribbean cricket. Barbados and West Indies greats Gordon Greenidge and Malcolm Marshall both spent several seasons with Hampshire, a team for whom batsmen Roy Marshall and Danny Livingstone played in the 1960s and 1970s.
Meanwhile batting hero Richards and fast bowler Joel Garner were both members of the successful Somerset sides of the late 1970s and early 1980s.