Essex won’t risk Charl Willoughby against Middlesex

ESSEX are in action again today as they continue their programme of pre-season warm-up fixtures with a 40-overs per side match against Middlesex at The Ford County Ground.

Head coach Paul Grayson, agreed that the friendly matches are an important process in preparation for the start of the LV= County Championship season that begins on Thursday, April 5, when Gloucestershire are the visitors to Chelmsford.

“We are looking forward to the game with Middlesex, they are a useful side in 40-overs cricket and will give us a good workout,” he said.

“Charl Willoughby has started to bowl again following his slight injury although we won’t risk him on Monday but everyone else is fit.

“The squad have worked very hard during the winter and apart from the indoor nets, we’ve been able to use the new outdoor facility. It’s always good to get some valuable practice out in the middle and the two-day game with Surrey gave us that opportunity.

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“I thought that everyone who was involved in the match with Surrey was excellent over the two days play and I believe we were the better side in all departments which is very encouraging. In fact, the Surrey coach Ian Salisbury admitted as much to me after the game and that’s always nice when the opposition recognise that.

“There were some good individual performances although a couple of the lads were frustrated because they didn’t go on and get higher scores but everyone enjoyed a good and worthwhile workout.

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“One or two players have come into the season with a point to prove and there is going to be some healthy competition for places which is what you want. Team selection for our opening Championship match is going to be tough but it’s a nice headache for me and Fozzy (James Foster) to have.”

The match with Middlesex starts at 11.30am and entry is free.

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