Essex cricket coach Chris Silverwood is confident ahead of top flight opener

Chris Silverwood

Chris Silverwood

Essex head coach Chris Silverwood believes his team can target more than just survival in the Specsavers County Championship First Division this season.

Neil Wagner will bowl for Essex this season

Neil Wagner will bowl for Essex this season - Credit: PA

Silverwood’s team won the Division Two title last season to seal their promotion back to the top flight following six years in the second tier.

They begin their campaign at home to Lancashire on Friday, with a number of pundits already predicting a season of struggle at the County Ground.

However, having recruited shrewdly in the winter, the former England and Yorkshire fast-bowler believes his team have the ability to do more than just keep their heads above water.

Asked if he was irked about people already writing off his team, Silverwood said: “Fine, that’s up to them, it’s not a problem.

“We will go about our business as we do and concentrate on what we can do. If we stick to our processes and do that over a long period of time, we will be successful.

“I honestly believe we have got the talent within this group not just to survive, but to go up and make our presence felt.”

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Essex will start the new campaign without veteran bowlers David Masters ad Graham Napier, both of whom retired at the end of last season, with a promotion under their belts.

“They are two big sets of boots to fill, a lot of wickets have gone there,” added Silverwood.

“But I think introduction of Simon Harmer, a test off-spinner, is very good for us and strengthens the squad massively.

“Neil Wagner coming in off the back of a great series for New Zealand will add that experience, and you know the lads will learn and feed off them, whether they are fast bowlers or spinners. We have got a strong batting line-up too.”

Controversial Pakistan fast bowler, Mohammad Amir, will also join the ranks later in the summer, leaving Silverwood happy..

“The guy (Amir) can win games on his own and, from a recruitment point-of-view, I am happy with what we have done. We have strenghtened the squad and it shows we are serious about getting stuck in,” he said.

“The guys are a close bunch who fight for each other. There is a lot of steel in there, they dug us out of holes at times last year, and we are going to have to show that again.”

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