Essex all set for County Championship opener with Lancashire
Essex will play First Division cricket for the first time since 2010 when they open their Specsavers County Championship season at The Cloudfm County Ground today with a visit from Lancashire.
The home side have named a 13-man squad but Alastair Cook will miss the fixture due to left hip soreness, an injury that has troubled the England opener for several weeks.
A scan this week has ruled out serious injury but he will undertake an injection in the upcoming days to help settle his symptoms and he is hoping to be fit to face Somerset next week.
Head Coach Chris Silverwood is keen to see his charges justify their arrival in the top-flight.
“We were dreaming of promotion at this time last year, we achieved that and the aspiration now is to make our presence felt in Division One,” he said.
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“We are not just in Division One to try and consolidate; we will be trying to finish as high as we can.
“My expectations of the boys is that they turn up every day with the right attitude and that’s how I will judge them although of course, they have to also perform around that also to make us successful.
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“The way we get to that stage is by getting all the various processes right and improve further on what we did last year and raise the bar a little bit higher. We’ll be treating every game as a “must win” game which we did last year.
“We are going to come up against some tough opposition but that’s what you have to prepare for when you are playing at the top level. But how exciting is that for our guys to have the opportunity to pitch themselves against some of the best players and teams in the country?
“We’ve had a terrific pre-season and all the squad are really excited about the season that lies ahead, not just in the red-ball game but the other two formats as well.
“We are ready for the challenges that lie ahead, our squad has strength in depth and there will be a couple of unhappy players when the final decision is made regarding the starting line-up on Friday. But we will need each and every one of the squad players at various stages during the season and, for sure, everyone will get their opportunity at some stage.
“Our two most recent recruits, Neil Wagner and Simon Harmer are top-quality players and they both have so much to offer, not only on the pitch but off it helping to develop our younger bowlers and I’m sure those younger players will earn a lot and benefit from having them around.
“Make no mistake, we are determined to make our presence felt and if we do that, then we’ll be successful.”