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Lord's a big lure for Wagg

By Chris Devine

After more than a decade on the county circuit, Graham Wagg hopes to fulfil a dream by reaching his first Lord’s final this weekend.

The 30-year-old all-rounder, formerly of Warwickshire and Derbyshire, will be part of the Glamorgan side taking on champions Hampshire Royals in tomorrow’s first Yorkshire Bank 40 semi-final at the Ageas Bowl.

In contrast to their last-four opponents, who triumphed in both domestic one-day competitions last year and also made it to finals day in this year’s Friends Life t20, Glamorgan have had to wait a long time to feature at the business end of a tournament.

Winners of the national one-day league in 2002 and 2004, their last appearance in a Lord’s showpiece came 13 years ago when they were beaten by Gloucestershire in the final of the Benson & Hedges Cup.

“It would mean the world to the club, the guys and the fans,” Wagg told ecb.co.uk.

“I’ve never played at Lord’s (in a final) and I think there are only two in the dressing room that have. It’s a fantastic place to play anyway, but to play a final there and have a chance of winning the YB40 would be a dream come true.

“In the first year of the t20 (in 2003) I made the final with Warwickshire and lost so that was my biggest final to date, but since then at Derbyshire and Glamorgan we haven’t been anywhere near a semi-final or a final.

"We celebrated getting into the semis very well and we know we’re one game away from getting to an actual final where anything can happen."

Wagg is aware Glamorgan will start as underdogs against Hampshire, who have established a reputation as the county game’s best one-day outfit.

However, that does not phase the Welsh side one bit.

“It was going to be a hard draw against any team, because Notts and Somerset (who play at Trent Bridge on Monday) aren’t the worst teams in this format, but I think all the boys are really happy and just looking forward to it,” he added.

“There’s chat going around that we’re underdogs but we don’t see it that way. We’re playing good cricket at the moment.

“We’ve got to be realistic. Hampshire are going to be the favourites - there’s no doubt about that.

“But how we see it is they are not necessarily a better team than us. The way we’ve gone about things in one-day cricket this year has been absolutely fantastic so there’s no fear. We want to match them on the field and, if we execute our skills with bat and ball, there’s no reason we can’t get through.

“We’ve played well under pressure this year. We had a big crowd here against Somerset in the t20 - a fantastic crowd - and we were all over them. It proves we can perform in front of big crowds and I think that will boost us to be honest.”

There are unlikely to be many surprises in the Glamorgan line-up. Seven players - Wagg, Mark Wallace, Marcus North, Chris Cooke, Murray Goodwin, Jim Allenby and Dean Cosker - have featured in all of the club’s YB40 fixtures so far this summer, while star seamer Michael Hogan, who today extended his contract, has missed just one game.

North is unavailable on this occasion having returned to Australia. Ben Wright, Nick James and Ruaidrhi Smith have been included in a squad featuring the other 10 players involved in Glamorgan’s final group game against Yorkshire Vikings.

Hampshire welcome back Pakistan left-armer Sohail Tanvir and England spinner Danny Briggs, while James Vince and Chris Wood also return having been rested for this week’s LV= County Championship fixture against Northamptonshire.

Michael Carberry, the Royals’ leading scorer in 40-over cricket this term, remains on international duty as part of England’s NatWest Series squad.

The match appears certain to represent Dimitri Mascarenhas’ final outing at the Ageas Bowl. The veteran all-rounder seldom features in the championship these days and has announced his decision to retire from county cricket at the end of the season.

“He’s such a popular character and a big part of the club, so hopefully we can get the right result for him and keep his career going with us,” Hampshire manager Giles White told the club’s official website.

“It’s a big day for Dim and all of us. It would be lovely to have a fairytale ending for Dim and a visit to Lord’s in a couple of weeks time. Everyone will be gunning for that.”

White respects the challenge Glamorgan will pose and added: “They’ve probably snuck under the radar a little bit. They’re a good unit and we’re going to have to play our best game to beat them.”

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