Wright all set for Twenty20 finals day
Luke Wright has acknowledged the part Matt Prior has played to turn him into one of the most feared batsmen in Twenty20 cricket.
The pair will be reunited at Edgbaston tomorrow when Sussex make their first appearance in the finals and Prior plays for the county for the first time since June 3.
Wright turned to Prior for advice when he was elevated up the batting order for this season's competition.
Whatever he said has worked. Wright made 103 against tomorrow's semi-final opponents Kent Spitfires and fell just two runs short of a century against Hampshire in the last game of the group stages.
So far he has scored 349 runs including 19 sixes and if he can maintain that sort of form tomorrow he could be rewarded with a place in England's World Cup squad when it is announced on Monday.
Wright said: "I was close to batting up the order last season. I floated around the order a bit and had my pads on for the full innings but batted at No.8 most of the time.
"When Matt was called up by England it gave me a chance to be pushed up the order which is what I have always wanted.
"I spoke to Matt when I found out that I was going to do it because he plays in a similar way. He's not looking to smash every ball but still looking to take the attack to the bowler and always trying to nick a single.
"Matt has really helped me and so has Murray Goodwin. He has been out there a lot when I've batted and that has been a big factor in my scores. I don't know where Matt's going to bat tomorrow - whether he opens or comes in the middle order and how my role is affected, if at all. It's just nice to have him back."
Wright gave Sussex a scare when he hurt his groin against Hampshire last week but he is fit and will have one advantage over his team-mates tomorrow - he has experienced Twenty20 finals day before.
"I was at Leicestershire in the first season of it in 2003 and went to the finals even though I wasn't in the squad," he added. "I've still got a DVD of Stuart Broad, who was about 12 at the time, waving his arms in the front row when Atomic Kitten were doing their concert. To be honest, if I wasn't playing on Saturday I'd be watching the finals - I love Twenty20."
It may be the rest of the squad's first taste of finals day but Wright has no doubt that the experience of last season's Lord's final will help their preparations, particularly the youngsters.
"That was such a big occasion for the club," he said. "The build-up this time has been different because we've been playing a very important Championship game against Lancashire but Lord's last year will definitely help in the build-up.
"I'd never experienced anything like that before and a lot of the other young guys were the same. Having that under our belt and knowing how we dealt with it will put us in good stead for this time."
It seems Sussex and Lancashire are inextricibly linked these days. That memorable day at Lord's nearly a year ago ended with a Sussex victory, the teams have been locking horns in the Championship in the build-up to this game and no doubt both sides were relieved to avoid each other when tomorrow's semi-final draw was made.
For the neutral the prospect of Prior and Wright engaged in battle with Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson is something to savour but there is a semi against a Kent side boosted by the signing of Laseth Malinga to overcome first.
Wright said: "We know each other quite well and we're similar in that they've got a lot of all-rounders like us. So much depends on the day but if we play to the best we can I think we'll beat them.
"Everyone is talking about a final against Lancashire but there is always an upset on finals day. I don't think anyone backed Leicestershire last season coming through to win so they will be wary of Gloucestershire like we are of Kent."
Wright insists he is looking no further forward than tomorrow but he would not be human if his thoughts wandered to that World Cup squad announcement on Monday. A good performance tomorrow will do his chances no harm at all.
"The England squad is not really on my mind," he said. "When people have spoken to me about it I have tried to ignore it."