Panesar hails work of Professional Cricketers' Trust on Finals Day

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BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Detailed view of a PCA message on the big screen during the Vitality T20 Blast Semi Final match between Yorkshire Vikings and Lancashire Lightning at Edgbaston on July 16, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
Hampshire Hawks clinched the title with a thrilling final-ball victory over Lancashire Lightning

By Milly McEvoy

The standout moment of Vitality Blast Finals Day was not Hampshire Hawks taking two attempts to defeat Lancashire Lightning, but the Professional Cricketers’ Trust video sharing Steve James’ harrowing story, says former Northamptonshire and England cult hero Monty Panesar.

Former England player and now respected journalist James revealed the support the Trust – the registered charity that supports members of the Professional Cricketers’ Association or their families when they are in need – had given to him and his family after his daughter Bethan died suddenly from sepsis in 2020.

The video has been viewed over 282,000 times on Twitter alone and was shown during Sky’s coverage of Finals Day, with Panesar one of those viewers.

The former left-arm spinner also showed his support for the Trust, keeping punters entertained by getting involved with their bowling activation at a raucous Edgbaston.

“I've watched that Steve James video, and, some people go through really hard times and that's where I think the value of the Trust is amazing,” the 40-year-old said.

“Because sometimes players, something can happen, a random thing in their life, and they don't know where to go and that's where the Trust really comes in to help.

“A lot of the players around – and I hope that that isn't the case, I don't want to see a lot of players go through tough times – but there is that charity there to help people through hard times.”

In 2021 alone, the Trust supported 106 individuals with mental health problems, taking the total since 2015 to 526.

The assistance for current and former players in England and Wales is all-encompassing, whether it be for physical or mental needs including provision of specialist equipment, funding operations or specialist wellbeing support.

Sky’s coverage which promoted the Trust throughout, reached a peak of 700,000 during the final with Panesar believing the Vitality Blast still has pride of place in the domestic calendar even as The Hundred continues its rise.

“It’s obviously the best day in our domestic tournament,” Panesar added. “And some people said that The Hundred is here to stay.

“But I think T20 Blast Finals Day is too. Packed houses, people just want to watch cricket, they want to go out there, buy tickets. I think as long as people are packing out the stadiums, all forms of cricket are here to stay.

“A lot of people question ‘oh, but the T20 Blast will probably fade away because of The Hundred.’ This is just the starter, the main course is yet to arrive in August when the Hundred starts.

“People just want to come and just watch live sport and that's why this is a brilliant concept.”

The Professional Cricketers’ Trust provides vital support to past and present cricketers in England and Wales and their immediate families when in desperate need. The charity’s work is all encompassing, whether it be for unforeseen physical or mental needs. Vitality Blast Finals Day is supporting the players’ charity - to find out more about the Professional Cricketers’ Trust, visit professionalcricketerstrust.org

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