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Sunday best

Posted in Domestic Cricket

Mike Gatting

© Getty Images

On Sunday the new Clydesdale Bank 40 competition kicks off. There are nine matches and I will be at the Whitgift School for Surrey's match with Lancashire.

The weather is supposed to be excellent so hopefully a good crowd will come along and watch the match. I'm hoping for a decent game to kick off the new competition.

I used to enjoy 40-over cricket when I was a player. All my team-mates did. It used to start at 2pm, families used to come along, it was a shorter form of the game and good fun. We enjoyed it enormously back then and I'm sure it will be popular today.

I won the competition with Middlesex back in 1992. That was a good year. We won the competition quite easily, beating Essex into second place.

Playing 40 overs is a long enough format for it to be a proper game of cricket. As a batsman you can look to score a hundred while for bowlers eight overs is a decent amount for one afternoon. There is enough time for teams to pull the game back if they have a terrible start which doesn't always happen in Twenty20 cricket.

The big prize at the end of the competition is a Lord's final. A full house at the home of cricket is always a wonderful event and not something every cricketer gets the chance to experience. You don't want to miss out on that.

Alastair Cook Clydesdale Bank 40

Alastair Cook poses with the Clydesdale Bank 40 trophy - Essex kick off against Yorkshire at Chelmsford this Sunday

I was fortunate enough to play in a few Lord's finals and apart from once we always did well. I still can't believe we lost to Warwickshire in 1989. I think they needed 13 off the final over which was bowled by Yozzer [Simon Hughes].

Yozzer was so good with his variations that I would have put my house on him but Neil Smith swung like a golfer at one delivery and sent the ball miles for six. He then nicked one for four which pretty much ended it.

I enjoyed the wins though. We somehow beat Essex one year and I remember our win over Kent in the dark and rain.

Finals at Lord's are great moments for cricketers and no doubt teams will know the Clydesdale Bank 40 is their chance to reach one.

The teams who reach the final will have to play consistent cricket. Each team plays 12 matches, six home and away, so you need to play well for the majority of the summer to reach the knockout stages.