Essex aiming for another festival double

ESSEX are hoping to repeat their recent cricket week success when they start the second of their festival weeks, this time at Castle Park, Colchester.The venue hosts a County Championship match against Division Two leaders Surrey starting at 11am today and then on Sunday, Essex continue their quest to retain their one-day league title when they meet Nottinghamshire in the Pro40 league.

ESSEX are hoping to repeat their recent cricket week success when they start the second of their festival weeks, this time at Castle Park, Colchester.

The venue hosts a County Championship match against Division Two leaders Surrey starting at 11am today and then on Sunday, Essex continue their quest to retain their one-day league title when they meet Nottinghamshire in the Pro40 league.

Memories of a festival “double” are still fresh in the mind. It was at Garon Park just a fortnight ago that victories against Somerset in the Championship followed by a limited-overs league win against Middlesex were gained and now the county are hoping that the traditional cricket festival at Colchester can continue the successful run.

Essex currently enjoy a five-match unbeaten run in the championship although they could not have a more severe test as they seek to extend that sequence. Surrey hold a massive 34-point lead over second-placed Worcestershire who, in turn, are 12 points ahead of third-placed Essex. All three sides have just four matches left to play.


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“It's going to be a tough game but one that we are looking forward to,” said Essex wicket-keeper James Foster. “Surrey are a very talented side and will provide a good test for us but we have a lot of quality throughout our squad and we certainly don't fear them.

“With only two promotion places up for grabs this year, obviously a win over Surrey would be a tremendous boost but we do also have Worcestershire to play and so our destiny is still in our own hands.”

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Surrey have suffered just one defeat in the competition this summer and have won eight matches, including the earlier meeting with Essex at Whitgift School.

On that occasion the hosts gained a six-wicket success despite centuries from Ronnie Irani and Andy Flower. Those two Essex batsmen have been the chief run-getters for their side this season with Flower boasting 1,225 championship runs while the Essex captain needs just 44 more runs to reach 1,000.

Mark Pettini is next in the list of run-scorers with 663 while all-rounder Ravinder Bopara has aggregated 651 runs

However the Surrey batting line-up has been in tremendous form in championship cricket throughout the upper order. Mark Ramprakash arrives with a phenomenal average of 116.29 having scored 1,977 runs while five of his colleagues - Rikki Clarke (970), Mark Butcher (938), Ali Brown (890), Scott Newman (859) and Jon Batty (856) - are closing in towards the 1,000 runs milestone.

The Surrey spinners have enjoyed a lucrative time this season. Ian Salisbury has already claimed 50 championship victims, Nayan Doshi has 33 and recently arrived Anil Kumble 19 while former Essex fast bowler Mohammad Akram has 32 wickets.

In the last 10 years, the two teams have met on nine occasions with Essex recording two wins and three defeats.

Andre Adams is still short of fitness after a toe injury and is set to miss the game whilst Jahid Ahmed's side injury also makes him unavailable.

Essex squad (from): R Irani (captain), M Pettini, R Bopara, A Flower, J Foster, J Middlebrook, G Napier, A Tudor, A Bichel, D Gough, T Phillips, M Westfield, W Jefferson and G Flower.

Surrey squad (from): M Butcher (captain), S Newman, J Batty, M Ramprakash, R Clarke, A Brown, J Benning, A Mahmood, I Salisbury, M Akram, N Doshi, T Murtagh and N Saker.

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