David Masters to miss Colchester Festival

THE Colchester Cricket Festival begins on Wednesday when Essex entertain Glamorgan in the LV= County Championship and then on Sunday, the county host Netherlands in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition.

Essex will be without David Masters who suffered a side injury during last week’s victory over Kent and he will be replaced by Charl Willoughby. Leg-spinner Tom Craddock is also included in a 12-man squad.

Head coach Paul Grayson is looking for his squad to maintain their recent run of form that has seen them win three of their last four matches in all competitions.

“We had a discussion as a group three weeks ago about where we wanted to go and what we wanted to achieve through the rest of the season,” he said.

“It was a really good and honest chat in the dressing room and the players made it clear that they wanted to win every single match between then and the end of the season.

“We’ve started alright with two CB40 victories, I thought we played well against Leicestershire in our last home game when we lost a day-and-a-half to the weather and now we’ve beaten Kent.

“If we keep to playing it simple and the guys stick to their plans, then we could have a very good month ahead.

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“We overcame the loss of David Masters, who was injured during Kent’s first innings, but we went on to the win the match in what was an excellent all-round team performance. That included some very good individual displays and it illustrated the team spirit that we have in the camp.

“Charl Willoughby now comes into the squad to replace Masters and he’s been in good form for the seconds taking wickets so we go into the match with Glamorgan at Colchester with a lot of confidence and belief. We are not too far off second place, we’ve got teams above us still to play and so we could be set for a very interesting run-in to the season.

“I’ve been saying for a while that if we are given some decent weather and if we play well, we’ll have a chance of winning cricket matches. If we don’t perform, that’s our fault.

“We know that we are one of the sides that have been hit most by the weather this year but hopefully, if the next month is good to us weather-wise, we can have a good finish to the season.

“It has been a bit frustrating because overall, I think our four-day cricket in general has been pretty good this year, there have been some good individual performances and one or two people are really developing both as players and individuals.

“We’ve managed to blood quite a few of the youngsters this year as well but now it’s all about how we finish the season. We have an opportunity to go on a bit of a run and that’s the key although we don’t want to get too far in front of ourselves but just stay focused with each game that comes along.”

Play at Castle Park is scheduled to commence at 11am on each of the four days of the Glamorgan fixture with gates open from 9.30am. The start time on Sunday is 1.45pm (gates open at 11.45am).

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

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