Essex seek to maintain sequence

ESSEX face Gloucestershire at Cheltenham this evening looking to maintain their seven-match unbeaten record in the Clydesdale Bank40 competition although that sequence includes three ‘no-result’ games when the weather intervened to curtail proceedings.

On all three occasions, rain prevented Essex from commencing their innings and attempts to chase down a total and now head coach Paul Grayson is hoping that the weather improves so all matches take their full course.

“It’s frustrating that we’ve been denied the opportunity of chasing victory in those games but we’ve been playing some good 40-overs cricket and hopefully, we can record another win against Gloucestershire,” he said.

“There are no easy games in this competition but we’ve practised hard after having a welcome few days off and we’ve prepared well for the game. Gloucestershire are a bit inconsistent but quite dangerous on their day and they’ve got match winners. They have just had a big win against Kent in the Championship at Cheltenham so they will be in good heart.

“It’s important that we keep pace with Somerset, who are leading our group and who we meet on Sunday, so I’m looking for a good performance from our lads against Gloucestershire.”

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Essex travel to Cheltenham without captain and wicket-keeper James Foster who is ruled out after twisting an ankle in training before last week’s match with Glamorgan. Adam Wheater deputises behind the stumps whilst Ravi Bopara continues as captain.

Batsman Matt Walker has a chest infection and is also ruled out.

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The visitors are also, once again, without an overseas player and it is understood that they may decide to forego the option of using the facility for the remainder of the season.

“Both Scott Styris and Tim Southee have flown back to New Zealand; they proved to be top-class blokes and proved excellent signings and we thank them for their services and wish them all the best for the future,” Grayson added.

“At the moment, we are not pursuing a replacement.”

Gloucestershire have been playing at Cheltenham for over 135 years and it is the world’s longest-running cricket festival. The ground’s idyllic setting has provided a perfect backdrop for the festival throughout its history often attracting huge crowds. Essex played a 40-overs League match at the venue two years ago but the game was badly affected by the weather. Ryan ten Doeschate struck an unbeaten 88 that included six sixes and five fours in a game reduced to 18 overs per side after heavy rain delayed the start, but the visitors were unable to defend a score of 191 for five, losing by six wickets as Gloucestershire completed victory with three balls to spare.

Gloucestershire have named brothers Jack and Mathew Taylor in their squad. Seventeen year-old Mathew, who is a left-arm seamer, made his debut alongside his 19-year-old sibling Jack - a spin bowler - in the CB40 match with Nottinghamshire last week. They were destined to finish on the losing side as Notts won by 19 runs leaving Gloucestershire to reflect on a fifth defeat in seven group games although both youngsters gave encouraging performances before a crowd of just under 4,000 at a sun-baked College Ground.

Gloucestershire (from): A Gidman (capt), H Marshall, I Cockbain, K Williamson, K O’Brien, C Taylor, W Gidman, E Young, J Batty, D Payne, J Lewis, I Saxelby, J Fuller, J Taylor, M Taylor.

Essex (from): R Bopara (capt), M Pettini, A Wheater (wkt), Owais Shah, R ten Doeschate, T Westley, J Mickleburgh, G Napier, T Phillips, C Wright, D Masters, T Mills, T Craddock.

The match is scheduled to start at 1.45pm.

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