Essex need a win and favourable results elsewhere

ESSEX return to twenty20 action tonight when they entertain Kent in their final match in the South Division of the Friends Life t20 competition in front of a sell-out crowd at the County Ground.

A disappointing campaign has seen Essex reach the last group match needing both victory and favourable results from elsewhere if they are to progress to the knockout stages.

All-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate admits that the campaign has not gone to plan for a squad that started the competition as one of the pre-season favourites to lift the trophy.

“I think that everyone is very wary now of talking about the strengths of our line-up and how strong we look because I think we showed in twenty20 this year that a strong squad on paper doesn’t guarantee you wins.

“It’s all about doing the business on the pitch. We started the competition slowly but managed to pull things back a bit and as a team we feel that we’ve played pretty well in the past couple of weeks,” he said.

“We’ve done okay in the last eight games, you are never going to win all eight of course but it has been disappointing that we haven’t been able to guarantee ourselves a place in the latter stages.

“A win against Kent might still get us there but whatever happens, the least we can do is to ensure that we put on a good performance on Friday night and get two points and hope that proves sufficient to take us through.

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“A place in the quarter-finals could even be decided on run-rate so that’s something else that we need to keep an eye on.”

The Netherlands all-rounder admits that he has not enjoyed the best of form in the past few weeks.

“Personally, I haven’t had a good month,” he stated. “I’ve not achieved much and that’s very disappointing for me. I’ve perhaps got into a bit of a rut but I’ve been working hard this week with Paul Grayson and Graham Gooch to get out of that.

“One-day cricket is the key for me to get back into form where I don’t have to think about anything but hit the white ball, so I’m looking forward to the match with Kent on Friday and hopefully, it might provide the opportunity to kick-start my season.”

A victory tonight for Kent would offer them the chance of progressing to the last eight of the competition but their fate also depends on the results of matches elsewhere in the group if they are to progress.

When the two teams met at Canterbury two weeks ago, the home side recorded a comfortable eight-wicket success with captain Rob Key hitting 75 and Azhar Mahmood an unbeaten 50 as Kent comfortably chased down an Essex score of 153 for eight with 13 balls to spare.

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

Kent squad: R Key (capt), J Denly, Azhar Mahmood, M van Jaarsveld, D Stevens, G Jones (wkt), S Northeast, A Blake, S Billings, J Tredwell, Wahab Riaz, S Cook, C Langeveldt, D Balcombe.

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