Crucial spell facing Essex in t20

ESSEX Eagles stage their first home match of the Friends Life t20 season when they entertain Kent Spitfires at The Ford County Ground tomorrow night.

The match begins a hectic spell of four matches in five days for the Eagles who travel to Lord’s on Thursday to face Middlesex Panthers, before returning to Chelmsford for the sell-out return fixture with Surrey on Friday night. Then on Sunday, they make the trip down to the South Coast where they engage Sussex Sharks at Hove.

Head coach Paul Grayson acknowledges that this is a crucial spell for his side.

“It’s a massive time,” he said. “We talked before the competition about making a good start and obviously after the huge disappointment of losing to Surrey last week - although a lot of our cricket was pretty good - we need to be getting a few wins.

“I thought that we bowled well in that match, got a good start with the bat but somehow, we went and pressed the destruct button. I think that comes from not winning matches, you lose the know-how of how to get over the winning line and we’ve got to get that back quickly.

“In this format, if you can get back-to-back wins, it changes confidence and changes momentum. But you have to earn the right to do that and we’ve got to bat better than we did last Wednesday evening.

“You can talk well as a side about preparation but it’s all about performing well on the field and players taking on responsibility for the team and helping to turn in match-winning performances.

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“I thought that Graham Napier’s three for 16 was a real top-class performance last week, excellent and that deserved to be on the winning side. In many ways, I suppose it was like a striker scoring a hat-trick only for his side to lose 4-3.

“Now with the number of matches that we have over the next week, it’s a good opportunity for some of the other lads to put in a big shift and we know that if we can get the confidence and momentum going in this competition, we can be quite a hard team to stop.”

Essex Eagles squad: J Foster (capt/wkt), Mark Pettini, J Franklin, O Shah, T Westley, G Smith, R ten Doeschate, G Napier, T Phillips, A Wheater, D Masters, T Mills, M Chambers, R Topley.

The match with Kent is scheduled to start at 7pm and tickets are available on the gates from 5pm.

Supporters can still purchase in advance online at, by phone 01245 254010 or in person at The Ford County Ground.

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