Essex aim to end season on a high
ESSEX play their final match of the season when they meet Surrey at Chelmsford in the LV=County Championship. Play is scheduled to commence at 10.30am. on each of the four days.
Whilst the home side have only pride to play for, their opponents are involved in a promotion chase that effectively concerns four teams who are seeking the two places up for grabs.
Middlesex top the table with 207 points from 14 matches followed by Northamptonshire with 204 points from 15 matches and then come Surrey with 181 points from 14 matches. Gloucestershire still have an outside chance of reaching the top-flight having secured 172 points with two matches to play. Northants led Division Two for most of the summer but have fallen away in recent weeks and were thrashed by Surrey last week who inflicted a 333-run defeat on their promotion rivals.
Essex meanwhile suffered a six-wickets defeat by old adversaries Kent at Canterbury and will be looking to round off their disappointing season on a positive note by securing their first Championship win in five matches. The home side, who are fifth in Division Two at present with four wins and 156 points, have named a squad of 12 players with Tymal Mills and Reece Topley added to the side beaten last week but Maurice Chambers is left out.
An ever-present in the Championship side this term, the match will offer David Masters the opportunity to close in towards 100 wickets in the competition. Comfortably the country’s leading wicket taker in the four-day game, the 33-year-old starts with 86 victims at 17.38 to his name having led the Essex attack throughout the summer sending down 587 overs. In that time, he has taken five wickets or more in innings on seven occasions including eight for 10 in the win against Leicestershire at Southend, the county’s last win in the competition.
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“I sensed that a big season was coming along for me but I never believed I would get as many wickets as I have done this year,” Masters said. “I suppose I’ve had a bit of luck in there somewhere along the line but if you keep doing the right things and bowl the amount of overs that I do, you do give yourself the opportunity to do well.
“I think that as a bowler, the more experience you get, the wiser you become and the more relaxed you become as a cricketer. Confidence is also a big factor, the more confident you are with your own game, and then the more confidence people seem to have in you.
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“I feel on top of my game at the moment and it’s probably the best that I’ve ever bowled.”
Surrey arrive at Chelmsford in a rich vein of form having won back-to-back Championship matches whilst they also beat Sussex last Sunday in the semi-final of the Clydesdale Bank40 competition to book their place in the Lord’s Final where they will meet Somerset.
Essex squad: J Foster (capt/wkt), B Godleman, T Westley, O Shah, J Mickleburgh, A Wheater, R ten Doeschate, G Napier, D Masters, T Craddock, R.Topley, T Mills.
Surrey squad: R Hamilton-Brown (capt), S Davies (wkt), M Ramprakash, Z de Bruyn, T Maynard, J Roy, G Batty, C Jordan, Z Ansari, T Linley, S Meaker, P Ojha, G Edwards.