Essex look to bounce back at Lord’s

JAMES Foster takes his Essex side to Lord’s this evening where they continue their Friends Life t20 campaign with a match against Middlesex commencing at 6.15pm.

The Eagles, who last night lost to Sussex Sharks by 17 runs at Chelmsford, have named the same 13-man squad that has seen duty in the opening three fixtures and they face a Panthers outfit who include England strike bowler Steven Finn who has been made available by the ECB for this fixture.

However, the home side have injury problems that have cost them the services of all-rounders Gareth Berg, who sustained a dislocated finger when playing against Essex in a Championship match recently plus Dawid Malan who is sidelined with a hamstring injury. Former Suffolk schoolboy Josh Davey is named in the Middlesex squad.

Middlesex have lost their first two matches in this year’s t20 and captain Neil Dexter is urging his side to bounce back with an improved display against Foster’s men.

“We have to learn and try to execute our skills a bit better,” said the 26-year-old, who used to play for Sudbury in the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship.

“At the moment it’s hard - two games, two losses - but there is still a lot of time to turn it around.

“I’m happy as long as we are improving each time and we learn from our mistakes.”

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Meanwhile, Foster is looking to the competition to provide him with his first piece of silverware as Essex captain.

“Twenty20 is a form of the game to which we fell particularly well suited,” he stated.

“The arrival of Scott Styris and Tim Southee has given us an extra dimension to our game and both have both made important contributions to the side, even at this early stage.

“But there are some excellent teams in our section and a lot of clubs have brought in some big-names to head-up their efforts to succeed in this competition, so we have to be consistently at the top of our game if we want to do well.”

It was just a year ago when 31-year-old Foster took on the added responsibility of captaincy to add to his wicket-keeping duties following the resignation of Mark Pettini and believes that he was ready for the added challenge.

“Obviously it was sad in the way the captaincy issue came about because Mark had done a superb job for us,” he continued. “But he felt his own form was suffering and wanted to concentrate on his own game and that’s understandable.

“I’ve been around for quite a while now and it was a great honour to be asked to take over. It came at the right time in my career and I felt comfortable taking on the role. As a keeper, I have always been involved heavily in a match making suggestions and observations to the captain and so it was a comfortable transition for me.

“Now I only have myself to blame if things don’t go according to plan!”

Middlesex squad: P Stirling, S Newman, C Rogers, N Dexter (captain), S Crook, J Dalrymple, R McLaren, J Simpson (wkt), J Davey, A Ireland, S Finn, T Murtagh, T Smith, T Scollay.

Essex squad: M Pettini, R Bopara, O Shah, M Walker, R ten Doeschate, S Styris, J Foster (capt/wkt), G Napier, T Phillips, T Southee, C Wright, D Masters, A Wheater.