Essex coach Chris Silverwood says side have talent to blow away opponents this season

Essex County Cricket Club

Essex County Cricket Club - Credit: Su Anderson

New Essex head coach Chris Silverwood believes his squad have the firepower to challenge on all three fronts this season.

Essex begin their Specsavers County Championship Division Two campaign at home to Gloucestershire on Sunday, (11am start) Paul Grayson’s successor having drafted in several additions over the winter.

Australian fast bowler Matt Dixon, New Zealand pace duo Adam Milne and Matt Quinn, Pakistan left-armer Wahab Riaz and his compatriot, all-rounder Ashar Zaidi, who was the Player of the Tournament in last year’s Bangladesh Premier League, have been drafted in at the County Ground ahead of the 2016 campaign.

Third in Division Two of the County Championship last season, Essex’s challenge to win promotion has been made all the more daunting due to a revised structure that will cut the number of teams in Division One by 2017, meaning only one team can go up this season.

As for the shorter formats of the game, Essex reached the quarter-finals of the T20 Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup last term.

Silverwood is determined to improve on that with the new signings set to supplement established names such as limited-overs skipper, Ravi Bopara, four-day captain Ryan ten Doeschate, former skipper, James Foster, stalwart all-rounder, Graham Napier and big-hitting New Zealand international, Jesse Ryder.

Silverwood will also be afforded the luxury of England skipper Alastair Cook’s services for the first four games of the County Championship season, prior to him joining up with his country.

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“I’m hoping the new signings will bring lots of wickets and there will be lots of runs from Ash (Zaidi),” said Silverwood,” who lost the services of Ipswich-born England paceman, Reece Topley, to Hampshire, at the end of last season.

“We have purposely strengthened our bowling attack because if we are going to be playing on a flatter wicket, we need to get 20 wickets.

“Matt Dixon and Matt Quinn, along with Asher (Zaidi) have made statements already, while Wahab (Riaz) and (Adam) Milne are match-winners and we have players that can blow sides away.

“Asher has done extremely well this winter in T20 cricket and we hope we have got a side that can go all the way this season.”

Silverwood was speaking at the club’s annual press day, at Chelmsford, yesterday.

“It’s an exciting time of year and the boys are looking forward to getting going,” added Silverwood.

“Pre-season in Dubai, and then the friendlies against Kent and Middlesex could not have gone much better.

“The batsmen have all managed to score runs at some point, some heavy with hundreds, and the bowlers have had a good workout, so we are quietly optimistic at the moment.

“We are treating every game as must-win, without prioritising. We want promotion in the County Championship and if we adopt a must-win mindset all season, that should serve us well.

“With only one team winning promotion from Division Two, it certainly focuses the mind. We have to be fighting at the top of the tree.”

In Saturday’s EADT, Ryan Ten Doeschate previews the new season.

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