Panesar eyes Lord's final
Monty Panesar knows just what it is like to play at Lord’s for England, but the Sussex spinner is hoping to secure a first trip to the home of cricket in county colours by helping his side to victory over Surrey in their Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-final.
The Sharks, winners of Group A, travel to the Kia Oval tomorrow looking to move a step closer to a third domestic 40-over title in four years.
Panesar, who joined the club after their 2009 triumph, has featured in six Tests at Lord’s, yet he is excited at the prospect of returning to the famous venue with Sussex later this month.
The left-arm spinner said: “Playing for your county in a big Lord’s final is something that every English cricketer dreams about.
"Every time I have played at Lord’s, a venue with so much history and prestige, it has been amazing, so to be out there in a major final would be really special.
“Sussex have a very strong record in limited-overs cricket, and it would be fantastic to add to our reputation with another trophy this summer.”
Matt Prior returns to Sussex's one-day team following his commitments with England this summer, but Luke Wright remains on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Surrey took Group B by storm and only suffered their first defeat in the competition, against fellow semi-finalists Durham, after their qualification had been secured.
Cricket manager Chris Adams, who captained Sussex to back-to-back County Championship titles in 2006 and 2007 and was also at the helm for their 2008 Pro40 triumph, believes his youthful team are capable of coming out on top this weekend.
“We’re very pleased to have reached the semi-final stages of the competition and are looking forward to playing Sussex,” said Adams.
“Lord’s finals are always very special occasions and it would be fantastic for our young side to have that experience so early in their careers.”
In the other semi-final, last year’s runners-up Somerset look set to be without skipper Marcus Trescothick through injury when they welcome Durham to Taunton.
Durham reached the last four as the leading runners-up in the group phase and all-rounder Paul Collingwood is eager to seal a return to Lord’s.
“To have qualified for the Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-finals is a great achievement for the team,” he said. “Durham as a whole have worked hard in the last few years to develop an effective one-day side and our performance this season really demonstrates ongoing success.
“We’re in with a chance of making it to a Lord’s final which is really special. When we won the Friends Provident Trophy there in 2007 it was a huge moment in the club’s history and it would be great to have the opportunity to win there again.”