Australian overseas batsman Simon Katich has urged his Lancashire team-mates to go and enjoy tonight's Friends Life t20 quarter-final against defending champions and his former side Hampshire Royals at the Ageas Bowl.
The experienced left-hander won this competition with the Royals last year before opting for a second spell with the Red Rose county in 2013 after a brief stay as the Lightning’s specialist T20 overseas in 2010.
Lancashire squad: Glen Chapple (captain), Kabir Ali, Karl Brown, Steven Croft, Gareth Cross (wicketkeeper), Jordan Clark, Kyle Hogg, Paul Horton, Simon Katich, Simon Kerrigan, Arron Lilley, Mitchell, McClenaghan, Stephen Moore, Tom Smith.
Ashwell Prince is not in the squad due to personal reasons.
Hampshire are searching for their fourth successive Finals Day appearance, and the 37-year-old knows full well that they will be the favourites for tonight’s contest. But the Lightning, despite never having won it, have some pedigree of their own in the FLt20 having reached the quarter-final eight times in eleven seasons.
“We are playing the reigning champions on their home patch. From that point of view, hopefully we can just go out there and play with some enjoyment. We've got nothing to lose really,” he said.
“The thing about Twenty20 is that it's all on the day. It doesn't matter what's gone on in the lead-up, it's what's you do on the day. All it takes is one or two guys to have a good day out and you can win the game.
“They've got plenty of match-winners and so have we. It's just a matter of adjusting to their pitch, playing well in front of their home crowd and hopefully getting through to Finals Day.”
One of three Lancashire batsmen to have posted more than 200 runs in this competition alongside Stephen Moore (294) and Karl Brown (211), Katich (265) has played down talk of an immediate advantage having played with a lot of the Hampshire players and knowing some trade secrets of the way they work in this format.
“We've got plenty of experience in our dressing room, whether it's Chappie through to Ashwell through to Mitch McClenaghan, there's plenty of guys with experience who know what to do in games such as this,” he continued.
“I've obviously played with their guys, but it doesn't mean I know everything about them.”
This contest highlights just how strange sport, or more specifically cricket, can be. One season you are trying your best to win a competition with one side, yet 12 months later you are trying your best to knock them off their perch.
“That's the plan,” he said. “At this point in time I want us to get through to Finals Day because I know how good a day it is. I'm sure all the other boys are keen as well. I spoke to Kabby (Kabir Ali - also formerly of Hampshire) before the draw, and we always thought it was going to happen.
“The good thing is that if we knock them off it will give us a lot of confidence because they've been the best team in all the pools in terms of consistency. That's the reason why they're favourites. At the same time, we all know it doesn't matter what's happened in the past. It's all about on the night.”
Katich will be hoping for a better experience of his last trip to Southampton earlier in the season when, whilst preparing for the Championship match between the two sides, he was hit flush on the temple batting with the nets against a Jordan Clark delivery that reared off a length. He had to go to hospital and missed the match.
“I won't be warming up in the nets. I won't be trusting them again!”, he added, very much tongue in cheek.
Picture (c) Simon Pendrigh