Alviro Petersen to make Essex debut against Gloucestershire

SOUTH Africa Test opener Alviro Petersen will make his debut for Essex as they open their LV= County Championship programme on Thursday against Gloucestershire at The Ford County Ground, starting at 11am.

Head coach Paul Grayson admits that a return to Division One for his team is top of his wish list this year although he admits that there are a number of realistic contenders for the two promotion places.

“Division Two looks very strong this year,” he said. “For example, the two teams that got relegated, Yorkshire and Hampshire, are good sides, Kent have recruited well and Northamptonshire only just missed out last year.

“But if we play to our strengths and do the basics right, then we will win matches. I think we are looking at eight to 10 wins and a decent number of bonus points to win promotion.

“Pre-season has been excellent but now all the talking stops and we have to prove ourselves,” he said. “There are no excuses, everyone has prepared well but now we need to see what our players are capable of delivering under pressure.

“Lack of runs, particularly in the first innings has been a problem for the last couple of years but the signing of Alviro Petersen gives us a real quality performer at the top of the order.

“I feel that some of our younger batters under-achieved last year but there is a determination amongst them to put the expected runs on the board this time around. We do have some good players missing the start of the season because of commitments elsewhere but it offers a great opportunity for other lads to show what they can do and to earn the right to wear the shirt.

Most Read

“We want good competition for places and I think we’ll have that this year.”

Paul Grayson has named a 12-man squad for the Gloucestershire match although new recruit for Somerset, Charl Willoughby, is ruled out with a slight groin strain.

“It’s nothing serious, just a slight niggle and he was desperate to play,” Grayson admitted.

“But we think it’s sensible to allow him a little more time to recover and have him fully fit for the Yorkshire match in a couple of weeks.”

Essex squad: James Foster (capt, wkt), Alviro Petersen, Billy Godleman, Tom Westley, Jaik Mickleburgh, Mark Pettini, Adam Wheater, Greg Smith, Graham Napier, Tim Phillips, David Masters, Maurice Chambers.