Alastair Cook returns as Essex bid to kick-start season

Alastair Cook, who plays for Essex against Hampshire, starting on Monday

Alastair Cook, who plays for Essex against Hampshire, starting on Monday - Credit: Archant

AFTER a draw and a defeat in the opening two LV= County Championship matches of the season, Essex will be hoping to make it third time lucky when they entertain Hampshire at the Essex County Ground starting on Monday.

The home side will be delighted to have England captain and opening batsman Alastair Cook available for the first time this season whilst another welcome inclusion is that of David Masters.

The new ball bowler missed the defeat at Northamptonshire last week because of a side strain but has recovered and will take his place in a side seeking a victory to kick-start their season.

Head coach Paul Grayson did not hide his disappointment at the performance at Northampton which resulted in an innings defeat but he is now looking ahead positively to Monday’s game.

“It will be nice to have the England captain back in our ranks for a couple of games plus our top bowler and they will obviously be automatic choices for Monday’s match,” he said. “We’ll be naming the rest of the squad after practice on Sunday.

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“To bring Cookie back in, someone has to drop out and at this time of the year, that’s difficult but that’s the nature of the beast. Hopefully, Alastair can find some good early form that will set him nicely for an excellent summer with England.

“We really missed Dave at Northampton, he’s a quality performer and any team would miss one of their best players. But he’s fresh and fit and ready to go and that’s good news for us.

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“As a group we’ve had a good chat about the start of our season which has been disappointing and not what we wanted but we want to move on from that and now I’m looking for a positive response. We’ve got some excellent cricketers and we’ve just got to start playing better than we have done.

“All we have to do on Monday morning is to concentrate on what we are good at, not worry about Hampshire and just focus on what Essex are all about. If we do that, then I’m sure that the squad we have will turn things around and start winning cricket matches.

“You win a couple of games and that brings confidence.”

Hampshire won the corresponding match at Chelmsford last year after Adam Wheater took Essex to the cusp of victory before he was caught for 98 to leave the visitors winners by two runs.

However, the wicket-keeper/batsman left Essex during the winter to move to the South Coast County and is expected to figure in the Hampshire line-up for Monday’s match which is scheduled to commence at 11am.

The two counties have met on 137 previous occasions in the County Championship with the first meeting in 1895. Essex boast 46 victories and Hampshire 35 successes whilst one match was abandoned.

It is a big week of cricket at The Essex County Ground with Essex Eagles also facing 2012 champions Hampshire Royals in the Yorkshire Bank 40 under floodlights on Friday evening.

Tickets are available for the match online at, by telephone 01245 254010 or in person at The Essex County Ground.

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