Essex cricket coach Paul Grayson says county are desperate to shed ‘bridesmaids’ tag

Reece Topley holds eagle Alaska at the Essex Cricket media day at the cricket grounds in Chelmsford.

Reece Topley holds eagle Alaska at the Essex Cricket media day at the cricket grounds in Chelmsford. - Credit: Su Anderson

Last season saw Essex agonisingly miss out on promotion to Division One - but they can do better this season?

Reece Topley holds eagle Alaska at the Essex Cricket media day at the cricket grounds in Chelmsford.

Reece Topley holds eagle Alaska at the Essex Cricket media day at the cricket grounds in Chelmsford. - Credit: Su Anderson

That is according to head coach Paul Grayson, who will lead the county in Division Two of the County Championship, the T20 Blast and the Royal London One-Day Cup.

Essex agonisingly missed out on promotion despite winning six of their last seven games, Grayson’s men losing out to Worcestershire and eventual champions, Hampshire.

They also went close in the two limited-over competitions, reaching the quarter-final stages of both.

“We were the bridesmaids last year which was frustrating as we probably deserved to win some silverware,” said Grayson.

Reece Topley holds eagle Alaska at the Essex Cricket media day at the cricket grounds in Chelmsford.

Reece Topley holds eagle Alaska at the Essex Cricket media day at the cricket grounds in Chelmsford. - Credit: Su Anderson


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“I think in one-day cricket, we have been very consistent and have won more matches than anyone else over the last seven or eight years.

“The most frustrating thing is, we have not won as many trophies as we would have liked.

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“We have always been strong but we have not been quite able to get over the line.”

This summer has seen Grayson lose Tymal Mills to Sussex, despite Essex offering the paceman a new contract, while Ben Foakes elected to join Surrey.

Saj Mahmood and Tom Craddock, meanwhile, were released, while veteran Tim Phillips called time on his playing career.

Coming in, Grayson has persuaded bowler Shaun Tait back to the County Ground for the T20 Blast after his heroics for the side in the T20 Cup two summers ago, while big-hitting New Zealand all-rounder Jesse Ryder will hope to carry one where he left off last season.

There are also a number of young prospects coming through, led by Ipswich-born Reece Topley.

“We have a nice balance of youth and experience and hopefully we can start the season like we finished the last, with six (County Championship) wins out of seven, when we play Kent in two weeks’ time,” added Grayson.

“We were full of confidence then and it is something we have talked about, maintaining that momentum, but there is no guarantees as it is seven months since we last played.

“But we have the same sort of personel, one or two of the players that have left did not really feature in those last two or three months, and I am pleased with my squad.

“I have Jamie Porter who has done well in pre-season, while (David) Masters and (Graham) Napier are still there.

“Jesse Ryder is coming back in next week, while batting-wise Dan Lawrence has been playing well, Kishen Velani scored a century last week against Surrey and then there are the likes of Nick Browne, Jaik Mickelburgh and James Foster.”

Grayson has obvious faith in youth and says they will be given their chance with big names such as Ryan Ten Doeschate and Ravi Bopara due to be in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the next six weeks.

“I think they’re ready based on what I see in practice,” he said.

“The beauty with youngsters is that they can surprise you and you don’t know how they are going to fare unless you give them an opportunity.

“I have every belief that the likes of Porter, Velani and Lawrence can perform at this level and they will get their chance.”

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