Chris Benjamin will fulfil an "absolute dream" when he lines up for Birmingham Phoenix in the inaugural final of The Hundred at Lord's tomorrow.
Warwickshire batsman Benjamin is one of six ever-presents in the Phoenix squad which has powered its way to Lord’s to face the winner of tonight’s eliminator between Southern Brave and Trent Rockets.
A Lord’s final will continue an extraordinary couple of months for the 22-year-old batsman who began the summer as a finance student hoping to find a foothold somewhere in professional cricket. Within weeks of impressing enough in Warwickshire’s 2nd XI to earn a short-term contract, he has become one of the stars of the inaugural Hundred and is close to agreeing a longer-term deal with the Bears.
Ninety-three days ago, Benjamin made his 2nd XI debut for the Bears against Northamptonshire at a near-deserted Portland Road – a less than glamorous start as rain permitted only seven overs in four days. Tomorrow the cricket world will be watching as he tries to lift the Phoenix to glory in a showpiece final at the home of cricket.
“Ever since I was a small boy it has been an absolute dream of mine to play at Lord’s,” Benjamin said. “It will be amazing. It is not a Test match but the final of the Hundred will be just as special and hopefully one day a Test match appearance there will come.
“I am absolutely loving it with the Phoenix. We have a fantastic leadership group and it is a great squad of players to be part of. All through the competition, different players have made important contributions at vital times and that’s what you need – that’s why we are top of the log.
“It is a dream come true and it did all come together very quickly for me but at no point have I felt any pressure or that I didn’t deserve to be here. It has felt like I am meant to be here. I am just so grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a fantastic squad.”
Next up for Benjamin is the glamour of a historic Lord’s final, but that will be far from the end of his glory-hunting this season. He will then return to the Bears ahead of the Vitality Blast quarter-final against Kent at Canterbury next Friday and the championship run-in, starting away to Lancashire the following Monday.
“I’m really looking forward to the journey forward with the Bears and helping bring them more trophies to Warwickshire, hopefully this season as we still have it all to play for in the T20 and championship,” he said. “I love it at Edgbaston and being among such a great group of coaches and players. I am talking to the club about a longer-term contract and hopefully there will be some news very soon.”