Essex Eagles anxious to end on winning note at Middlesex

ESSEX have a busy week ahead, starting with a trip to Lord’s on Monday where they face Middlesex Panthers in a match starting at 1.45pm, which will conclude their Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign for this season.

Then immediately following that game, Essex continue their travels with a match at Derby against current Division Two leaders Derbyshire in the LV= County Championship, starting on Tuesday at 11am.

Although Middlesex Panthers will start Monday’s game in second place in Group A, neither they nor their visitors can qualify for the knockout stages, although the Eagles are anxious to complete their one-day season on a winning note.

Defeat to group table-toppers Lancashire on Thursday at The Ford County Ground brought an end to a winning run of three matches in the competition for James Foster’s men and the Essex skipper is keen for his side to regain the winning thread.

“It would be nice to round off the competition on a winning note, any time we go out to play, we want success,” he said.

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“I have been pleased with the development that some of our younger players have been showing in the past few weeks, not only in limited-over’s cricket but in the four-day format as well.

“The conditions have been a bit more batsmen friendly than they were at the start of the season particularly in the four-day game, but some of the players, particularly Tom Westley and Jaik Mickleburgh, have really taken the opportunity. Tom has really taken well to opening the batting recently and has played some lovely knocks.

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“With only one team guaranteed to go through from the group stage in the CB40, you can’t afford to have a poor run like we did at the start of the season and that meant we were really up against it. We were left playing catch–up which is obviously difficult when you are playing against some good teams.

“We will take some lessons from this season, you are always learning and if you don’t, then you are naive and that’s when cricket is going to bite you hard.

“As a group collectively in CB40 cricket, we’ve either been good or been poor at times. I’m not criticising my team but I’m just being realistic. Individually, we’ve got to go away and improve our game and got to evolve because if we don’t, we are going to stand still and we can’t allow that to happen.”

Already without the injured David Masters, Essex have further concerns ahead of next week’s matches. Graham Napier is nursing a slight hamstring problem while Adam Wheater is also carrying a knock.

However, Ben Foakes and Reece Topley could be available following the conclusion of England’s participation in the ICC Under-19 World Cup in which they finished fifth overall.

Essex Eagles squad: J Foster (capt/wkt), T Westley, M Pettini, O Shah, R ten Doeschate, Greg Smith, A Wheater, G Napier, Harbhajan Singh, Tim Phillips, T Mills, M Chambers, B Foakes, R Topley, J Mickleburgh.

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