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20th March 2012
Abu Dhabi Diary
Abu Dhabi Diary
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Lancashire's squad have arrived their pre-season UAE tour and we caught up with the much-travelled Paul Horton in Abu Dhabi

Lancashire opener Paul Horton has got the taste for success as he heads into the 2012 county season.

Horton, who has arrived in Abu Dhabi with his Red Rose team-mates ahead of their eleven-day pre season tour, has recently completed another successful winter in Zimbabwe, where he played first-class cricket for the Matabeleland Tuskers.

Although the 29 year-old admitted "I didn't score as many runs as I did the year before", he was celebrating a third trophy inside a year and a half.

The Tuskers defended the four-day title they won the season before, while all Lancashire fans know what his other winner's medal is.

Horton even split his time in Zimbabwe to return to Buckingham Palace to receive his Championship medal, then jetted off to Australia for a wedding, before returning to the Tuskers in a whirlwing winter journey.

And Horton believes the fact that he has been part of a title defence in Zimbabwe is good news for the Red Rose.

"I enjoyed my time over there," he said. "We defended our title, so we are champions again. I had a lovely time, but it's great to be back with the Lancashire lads.

"I've won three in 18 months now. I obviously won the first one over there last year, then the Championship with Lancs before we defended our title in Zimbabwe this winter.

"It was nice to defend a trophy, which will hopefully put me in good stead to defend the County Championship. That feeling of winning the Championship was fantastic, and one we all want to repeat."

Not surprisingly, Horton, who completed the rare feat of passing 1,000 Championship runs for Lancashire in 2011 without scoring a hundred, is looking forward to his tour of the Middle East.

There are seven scheduled days of cricket, including the four-day champion county fixture under lights and played with the pink ball against the MCC on March 27.

"The UAE has worked well for us before, but it will be a bit different playing a four-day game under lights and with a pink ball," he said, having played there twice before.

"It's going to be a proud moment getting out there with the white shirts on with Champions on the arm."

The clash may be a friendly, but it provides Lancashire with the perfect opportunity to get into the four-day rhythm before their Championship opener against Sussex at Liverpool on April 12.

"Cricket's a game of momentum," continued Horton. "If we can get an early victory and bring some good form back home, it will help us massively.

"It will be nice for us all to get miles in our legs - for the bowlers to get overs under their belts and the batters to get runs. Hopefully we can have a good four days."

Horton should also get the chance to fine tune his Twenty20 skills whilst abroad, with Lancashire possibly playing three 20-over clashes.
They face a Fly Emirates XI on Friday morning for the right to meet the MCC in the semi-final. The winner of that clash then goes on to play either Sussex or Durham in the final at the Dubai Sevens complex.

Horton played a crucial innings in last season's Friends Life t20 quarter-final against Sussex at Hove, and he captained the Tuskers, who fielded Tom Smith and Chris Gayle, in Zimbabwe this winter.

Batting in the middle order for the Lightning last term, Horton is keen for that to change.

He added: "I'd like to maybe get up towards the top of the order again and show what I can do. But, obviously, Tommy and Moorey have played really well there for us. I'll just have to bide my time. Hopefully I'll get a chance."

Graham Hardcastle
Photo (c) P.A. Images
Article (c) Lancashire CCC

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