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Dimi backs Briggs to star for England
2:51pm Monday 27th August 2012 in Sport
Dimitri Mascarenhas has told England's selectors they can rely on young spinner Danny Briggs to play a vital part of their World Twenty20 title defence next month.
Briggs, the leading Friends Life t20 bowler over the last three years, produced another mature performance as Hampshire claimed their second title in three years.
The 21-year-old, who was selected for the World Twenty20 despite still being uncapped in the format, proved his guile before his years as he first strangled the Yorkshire batsmen in the middle overs before then halting a rampant David Miller when the game was on the line.
Miller had looked destined to steal victory away, as he three times thumped the Hampshire attack into the nearby river Taff during a stunning 48-ball 72, before Briggs applied the brakes in the penultimate over which cost just seven.
That left Yorkshire with too much to do in the final over and former England all-rounder Mascarenhas to praise the qualities of his young team-mate.
"He's well ahead of his time in his head. He's a 40-year-old playing in a 21-year-old's body," said Mascarenhas, who is unlikely to play again this season, having starred at Finals Day less than a week after suffering his second shoulder muscle tear of the month.
"He's extremely good, he knows batters, he knows how to bowl to different batters.
"He came to me in that last over and said he was going to go into the wicket. I said: 'What no into the wicket, surely bowl yorkers?
"He said: 'No I'm going to bowl into the wicket'. So I said 'alright' - he did it his way. He knows more about spin than me."
Briggs has made just one England appearance since he was first called up last summer and while he has not enjoyed the prolific return of last year's Twenty20, Mascarenhas is certain he is a better player now.
"He's really improved. I know his stats this year don't tell a very good tale but it's Twenty20," he said.
"On those wickets in Sri Lanka which will suit the turners and he's not a big turner, so all he needs to do is turn it a little bit and with his variations of pace and the way he gets his yorkers in I think he'll be a huge asset.
"Whether they (the selectors) pick him straight away I'm not sure. I hope he gets an opportunity because I think he'll do very well."
After the World Twenty20, which begins in Sri Lanka late next month, Briggs will join Hampshire for the Champions League in South Africa.
Both Hampshire and Yorkshire qualified for the lucrative tournament - when the best domestic teams from around the world meet - to offer some consolation for the beaten finalists.
Yorkshire had never been to a finals day in 10 years of the Twenty20 before their trip to Cardiff yesterday and skipper Andrew Gale admitted they were looking forward to testing themselves on the highest domestic stage.
"We've come a hell of a long way in a short space of time in Twenty20 cricket," he said.
"We'd like to think we can go to the Champions League and compete with some of the best teams in the world.
"We've got the opportunity to do that and everyone is very excited.
"If I'd have been sat here and only the winner was going to the Champions League I'd be pretty gutted but as it stands we have a trip to South Africa and we get to play some of the best Twenty20 teams in the world. I guess that's a consolation even though we're pretty down."
Miller, who was Yorkshire's leading run-scorer during the competition, will hope to be made available to play in the tournament by his South African club the Dolphins.
"I want to play," he said. "I'm not cleared yet. It's over four domestic games so I'll have to wait for an answer from my domestic team but I'm sure they won't have a problems because it's a big tournament."
While Hampshire and Yorkshire were planning their South African trips, Somerset were again left empty-handed after another disappointing finals day for Marcus Trescothick's men.
Somerset had been beaten in the previous three finals and this time came up short in their semi-final against Hampshire by six wickets.
"I think we're used to dealing with it now. That's what we've come to expect the last few years," a deflated Trescothick.
"You prepare for these moments being thrown at you, but we haven't got it right.
"It's for us to work out. We've been good at bouncing back the last few years and I don't see it any differently."
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