Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara in Essex squad for CB40 opener

ESSEX Eagles open their Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign with a trip to Grace Road on Monday where they take on Leicestershire Foxes.

The ECB have given clearance for both Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara to play whilst overseas recruit Alviro Petersen will make his one-day debut for the county who will select from a 13-man squad. Despite their potent batting line-up, head coach Paul Grayson is expecting a tough opening match.

“Leicestershire will provide us with a difficult start, they won the FL t20 last year so that are a good one-day outfit but we go there confident of doing well,” he said.

“We are in a tough group and it’s important that we get off to a good start because we don’t want to be playing catch-up as the competition progresses.

“So we are looking forward to getting our one-day season under way with a positive performance on Monday, especially as the CB40 is a format we like and are looking to perform well in.

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“A couple of years ago, we reached the semi-final before we were beaten by Somerset and last year, our prospects of reaching the knockout stages were hampered by the weather.

“Three of our matches were affected by rain and each time, we felt that we were in an excellent position to go on and win each game so that was frustrating.

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“We’ve got Cookie and Ravi playing at Leicester and there’s probably only going to be a couple of occasions when we have both of them available in the CB40 before they go off to join England.”

Youngsters Michael Comber and Reece Topley are both named in the Eagles squad with Grayson adding: “Michael did well for us last year when he was given opportunities and Reece has recently returned from playing with the England Under-19s.

“Both are exciting members of our squad but they have to earn the right to play although they are both pushing for inclusion.

“We’ll make a final decision on the starting line-up when we’ve had a look at the surface at Grace Road.”

The match commences at 1.45pm.

Essex squad: James Foster (capt/wkt), Alastair Cook, Mark Pettini, Alviro Petersen, Ravi Bopara, Adam Wheater, Greg Smith, Tim Phillips, David Masters, Tymal Mills, Charl Willoughby, Michael Comber, Reece Topley.

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