Matthew Hoggard: We need to shine today to end grim summer on a high

Twenty20 Cup Finals Day
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The Independent Online

Never say never, I suppose, but whatever else happens at the Twenty20 finals day today, I should not run the risk of causing offence to radio listeners.

Well, at least not as a result of something I say from the back of a commentary box.

Today is a huge occasion in domestic cricket – the day when four counties (Leicestershire, Lancashire, Hampshire and Somerset) and most of their fans descend on one ground (Edgbaston) to produce something like 12 hours of non-stop entertainment.

As Leicestershire captain, I desperately want us to win, of course, but no matter how tense it gets, at least I should be able to remember where I am – unlike during our amazing quarter-final victory over Kent, which I missed because of injury and ended up watching from the radio commentary box at Grace Road while doing some summarising for the Beeb.

All was going fairly well until it started to rain. I wasn't on air at the time so I was standing at the back of the box – and when the groundstaff failed to get the covers in position quite as quickly as I thought they should, I invited them to speed up a little. Only I didn't say it as politely as that.

Fortunately, the microphone failed to pick up my colourful comment, otherwise I suspect it would not have been only batting records that were broken at Grace Road that day. There might also have been a record number of calls from listeners complaining about Hoggard's choice language.

As T20 games go, that quarter-final will take some beating in terms of brilliant batting. When Kent made 203 I did think they might have got a few too many runs. But the wicket was an absolute belter and we had the players capable of producing the necessary fireworks right from the start of our reply.

In the end, we won with four balls to spare and it was only a shame that Paul Nixon – one of those who batted so brilliantly – was out before he could hit the winning runs. Doing that would have been a dream end to Nico's last match at Grace Road before retirement but, hopefully, he will be in the thick of the action today.

There is a lot of excitement in our camp about appearing at finals day and I'm sure that is exactly the same with the other three counties. We all know that any one of the four teams could emerge victorious and it should be a wonderful spectacle.

Our semi-final against Lancashire is first up. I think I would rather have it that way because you are straight into the action and then, if you manage to get through, there is time for a bit of rest before the final.

We know it won't be easy against Lancs. We were in the same group and neither side can claim an edge from that stage of the competition because they won at our place and then we beat them at Old Trafford. But I do think the victory in Manchester kick-started our T20 campaign.

That game was the first one in which we had Abdul Razzaq on board. Our "Smiling Assassin", as I call him, had just stepped off a plane from Pakistan but he batted fantastically and everyone realised we had been joined by someone who could win a game from any position. That helped a lot with our self-belief and we've gone from strength to strength in the T20 ever since.

The thing with T20 cricket is that it only needs one special performance from someone to take the game away. It is usually a batsman who comes up with the heroics, but not always.

As I've said before, T20 is a silly game for bowlers because your good balls get slogged for six while your bad ones tend to take wickets. But as long as you get those wickets, who cares? I'm feeling OK after recovering from my wrist injury but we will see what the surface is like at Edgbaston before we make any selection decisions. However, I am planning to be out there pulling the strings.

Although I've never been involved in one of these finals days, we've got a couple of players – Nico and Claude Henderson – who played when Leicestershire triumphed a few years ago, so we will draw on their experience.

As most people will know, Leicestershire have had a very disappointing season in other forms of the game so it would be great for everyone associated with the club – players, staff and supporters – to get something out of this summer by winning today. We'll be giving it our very best shot.

But just before I start concentrating on all things Leicestershire, I would like to pass on my congratulations to England's Test team. They are just superb at the moment and they thoroughly deserve to be ranked No 1 in the world after their 4-0 thumping of India.

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