Sajid Mahmood is available for Lancashire before joining up with the England one-day squad
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Welcome back to the C&G Trophy. The premier domestic one-day tournament has reached its final stage with Lancashire and Sussex ready to continue a hard-fought rivalry. However, this was known two months ago when the final group game were played, but thanks to the ECB fixtures department there has been an entire Twenty20 competition and half of the 40-over league before the showpiece final of the summer.
Still, if the two team remember which length of game they are playing (it is to their advantage that all one-day cricket is now played in coloured clothing) this final has the potential for some outstanding cricket. Lancashire and Sussex have been the two form teams of the season, not only are they contesting the final but hold the top two positions in the Championship. Whatever the result on Saturday, it won't be the end of their contest.
For Lancashire this final marks a return to a ground that used to be their second home during the 1990s as they made regular appearances in one-day finals. But they haven't made it since 1998 - when they beat Derbyshire - and have had to endure a raft of semi-final defeats. Sussex's absence has been even longer, stretching back 13 years to possibly the greatest domestic final when they were beaten by an Asif Din-inspired Warwickshire in the 1993 Natwest final.
Already thus season these two sides have played each other on three occasions; twice in the Championship and once in the Pro40. Lancashire took the honours with in the Championship with an impressive win at Liverpool before holding on for a battling draw at Hove, but Sussex claimed the Pro40 match thanks to stunning century from Chris Adams.
There is a history of hard-fought contests and Mark Chilton, Lancashire's captain, is expecting nothing less this time around. "Any team that has Grizzly [Chris] Adams in charge is going to provide a tough challenge. We have had some good contests with them and they are a side fill of talented players.
"You can see through our one-day form - in the C&G early in the season - as well as our championship form, we are two teams who deserve to be challenging for two big prizes."
Michael Yardy, one of the new faces in England's one-day squad, forms part of a powerful Sussex batting order which also includes Adams, Murray Goodwin, Matt Prior and Richard Montgomerie. While Yardy can look forward to his first taste of international cricket, Prior will want to use the final to remind the selectors of his talents after missing out on all England's squads this summer.
Lancashire, too, have players with points to prove. Sajid Mahmood is available before joining up with the England squad and has yet to convince in the limited overs game while Mal Loye, who has been on the verge of national honours this season, has a major stage to show England what they are missing.
Murali Kartik, who arrived in Manchester on Tuesday, has been named in Lancashire's 14-man squad and could be selected in favour of Gary Keedy, who has struggled in recent weeks. Their seam attack is strong with Mahmood, Glen Chapple, Dominic Cork and Tom Smith providing a powerful armoury.
If Kartik makes the final XI, it will throw up a head-to-head with Mushtaq Ahmed, who has so often been Sussex's trump card in major matches. Mushtaq is top of the Championship wicket-taking list despite suffering a variety of injuries and is the vital cog in the Sussex attack. Yasir Arafat, the Pakistan allrounder who replaced Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, is dangerous with the new and old ball so Pakistani cricketers are unlikely to be far from the action for the second weekend running.
Lancashire (probable) Mark Chilton (capt), Mal Loye, Stuart Law, Nathan Astle, Luke Sutton (wk), Glen Chapple, Dominic Cork, Kyle Hogg, Tom Smith, Sajid Mahmood, Murali Kartik.
Sussex (probable) Richard Montgomerie, Matt Prior (wk), Murray Goodwin, Chris Adams (capt), Michael Yardy, Carl Hopkinson, Robin Martin-Jenkins, Yasir Arafat, Luke Wright, Mushtaq Ahmed, James Kirtley
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo