Coach Paul Grayson says Essex are not out of the running for promotion

ESSEX have named a 13-man squad for their LV=County Championship match with Leicestershire that starts tomorrow in a fixture that marks the inaugural Chelmsford Cricket Festival.

Essex head coach, Paul Grayson is hoping to mark the occasion with a victory. Although the county start the match in seventh place in Division Two, Grayson believes that his side are not yet out of the running for promotion.

“We know that we have to start winning cricket matches but we can only control what we do as a team,” he said.

“But there are ways that you do that in four-day cricket and you can’t win a four-day match on the first day. But you can lose it by being reckless and daft.

“If it means that we win a four-day match at tea on the final day, then so be it because it means it’s been a hard-earned victory, and they are very satisfying performances when you do that.”

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The home side currently lie 38 points outside the promotion places although they do have a match in hand, whilst tomorrow’s visitors are one place lower in the table with 69 points and having played 11 matches.

When the teams met earlier in the season at Grace Road, considerable time was lost to the weather leading to an inevitable draw. However, Leicestershire will not recall with any satisfaction the occasion of their previous visit to the county just 12 months ago.

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Playing at Garon Park, they were beaten by 280 runs after David Masters tore through their batting line-up in the second innings. The seamer took career-best figures of eight for 10 as the opposition were bundled out for 34 in just 14.4 overs when six batsmen failed to score.

Grayson accepts that his side are in for a stern test this time around.

“We will have to work hard against Leicestershire, they won’t be an easy side to beat and it will be a tough four days,” he acknowledged,

“We know that we’ve got to start winning matches if we want to get one of those top two places in the division. Surrey were in quite a similar position to us at this time last year and won five out of their last six games, so we know it can be done. We have the players to do it; it’s just a matter of hitting some good form at the right time.”

The two counties have met at Chelmsford on 24 occasions with the home side recording seven victories while 12 matches have been drawn.

Essex have achieved their two highest innings totals against Leicestershire both on The Ford County Ground. In 1990, they amassed 761 for six declared and followed up in 2004 with 708 for nine declared.

A wide range of entertainment will be on offer throughout the week with discounted advance tickets available for all five days. Adults tickets are priced at �10 and only �1 for Juniors. The Festival is taking place in association with Spire Hartswood Hospital, Brentwood.

Essex squad: J Foster (capt/wkt), J Mickleburgh, T Westley, O Shah, M Pettini, R ten Doeschate, A Wheater, G Napier, Harbhajan Singh, D Masters, M Chambers, T Craddock, T Mills.

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