GRAHAM Napier can’t wait to play in front of a sell-out Castle Park crowd as the big-hitting Colchester-born star returns to his home ground for its inaugural Twenty20 Blast match today.
Napier is set to be part of the Essex Eagles side that kicks off the annual Colchester Cricket Festival with a Blast game against Kent Spitfires (2.30pm start).
It will be the first time the ground has hosted a county 20-over game and has already sold out, but tickets are still available for Essex’s four-day LV= County Championship game against Hampshire that starts at Colchester on Sunday.
Castle Park is a venue that Napier knows every bit as well as the Ford County Ground in Chelmsford as he grew up playing his cricket there for Colchester and East Essex.
He said: “It’s always great to go home and I love playing at Colchester.
“There’s familiar faces, it’s a familiar ground and Colchester itself is a lovely town.
“I played my junior cricket at Castle Park, starting out going into club cricket.
“I have treasured memories of playing there and the innocence of youth, playing there.
“That’s where it all started for me. Colchester certainly knows how to come along and support Essex.
“I remember my father taking me down to watch Essex play in the Colchester Festival.
“I can recall running onto the outfield at the lunch and tea interval and pretending that I was playing out there.
“That’s where it first started for me as a junior and then I got the chance to play on the outfield, representing my county.
“I remember getting several of the players’ autographs, probably chasing after them four or five times in one game.
“I got Graham Gooch’s and I remember going up to Graeme Hick and asking for his autograph, running back to my dad and asking him who he was after he scored his 405.”