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Napier chasing Twenty20 riches

Graham Napier hopes his big-hitting exploits for Essex will earn him a money-spinning call-up from England or the Indian Premier League, only weeks after he was contemplating a career outside of cricket.

Napier shot to prominence with 152 off only 58 balls with a world record 16 sixes in the recent Twenty20 Cup success over Sussex at Chelmsford.

And he repeated that kind of form with 61 from 34 deliveries - including six more sixes - in Saturday's Friends Provident Trophy semi-final success over Yorkshire at the same venue.

Napier is a typical journeyman county player who is not part of the Eagles championship side and began the season batting as low as number nine in the one-day line-up.

It did lead him to consider the options that could be available away from the domestic game.

But the explosion of Twenty20 cricket via the IPL, Indian Cricket League and the input of Sir Allan Stanford means Napier could become hot property in the shortened versions of the game.

Napier said: "Cricket is a hard game to play for your life and as a career. All county cricketers are always having to think about a career after they have stopped playing.

"Six weeks ago, I was thinking the same, about a career outside of cricket. I was just wondering.

"I wasn't playing championship cricket and I was batting at number nine and not getting much of a knock in the one-day games.

"You think, 'What am I going to do?' but then you have a great two or three weeks and that changes and you are thinking, 'Can I get involved with the IPL or the Stanford game or play for England?'.

"Anytime is good to be hitting the ball well but, with the Stanford game, the IPL and the ICL, it is a particularly good time to be doing that."

Napier added: "Would I like to play in the IPL? I wouldn't turn it down. It is a life-changing opportunity financially for someone and the Stanford game is the same.

"There is no reason why I can't and I'd love to. They are life changing opportunities for cricketers - especially any county player.

"International players have probably got the benefit of earning the extra money.

"To be involved in something like that would, for me, be life-changing and also an opportunity to pit my talents against the best. It can set you up for life."

Yorkshire skipper Darren Gough believes former Eagles team-mate Napier would find it difficult to make the step up from county cricket into the IPL with its host of big name stars.

He said: "Everyone knows I tried to sign Graham for Yorkshire last year. He re-signed for Essex. He is a terrific cricketer, he has got huge talent and to hit the ball like he does is tremendous.

"I don't know about the IPL. Listen, he is doing the business at county level, If he goes and does this at international level then great.

"But you can't take a player out of county cricket into one of the toughest leagues of all. If he gets into the England side and keeps doing performances like that then he has got a chance.

"But you've got to remember the boundaries at international level are 20 yards back from these at Chelmsford. Even though he hit some big sixes, they are short boundaries."

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