Murali heads up all-star cast for Foster’s benefit

Muttiah Muralitharan heads a true all-star cast as internationals past and present turn out for Essex captain James Foster in a special ‘Fozzy’s Big Bash’ Twenty20 match under the Chelmsford floodlights.

Darren Gough and thecricketer.com columnist John Emburey head up the former internationals alongside Murali in an All Stars XI which takes on a strong Essex XI in a game being played on Saturday June 18 in aid of Foster’s benefit year.

Phillip DeFreitas and Ian Harvey are other former stars on parade, while Paul Grayson and Chris Silverwood – respectively Essex’s head coach and bowling coach – will also be turning out for the All Stars.

Current internationals Monty Panesar, Wayne Parnell and Luke Wright join fellow Sussex former Test batsmen Murray Goodwin and Lou Vincent in the All Stars line-up. Their squad also features Alviro Petersen, the Glamorgan captain, and Nottinghamshire all-rounder Andre Adams.

But it is Muralitharan who is the undoubted star attraction and Foster said: “I was chatting to him the other day and he’s really excited about the prospect of playing which is unbelievable really. Statistically, he’s the best bowler ever to play the game and the fact that he’s prepared to come and play in my benefit match is a huge honour.”

Now 31, Foster made his first-class debut in 2000 and is widely acknowledged to be the most consistent wicketkeeper on the county circuit. Although he has seven England Test caps and 11 one-day international appearances, that is also little reward for the quality of his glovework.

Former England keeper Jack Russell says of Foster: “He is the best keeper in the world. He’s doing things that very few other keepers have ever one. He’s gone to a level that is unbelievable, stood up to the stumps to the quick bowlers. He’s taken balls that mentally you have to be in a different zone to take. And he can bat.”

However, and unfortunately for Foster, a succession of England selection panels have not been so convinced about his all-round talents, leaving the player to concentrate on life with Essex which, recently, has included taking on the captaincy midway through last season and arranging his various benefit functions.

“I’m really looking forward to this match, but I’m also supporting two good charities. One is the PCA Benevolent Fund which is for professional cricketers who have fallen on tough times and the second is Haven House Childrens’ Hospital which is based in Woodford Green,” he added.

Admission prices on the night are £14 for adults and £7 for juniors. For tickets and information, visit www.jamesfosterbenefit.com

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