Galaxy of stars on show at Essex

ESSEX commence their series of FriendsLife t20 matches this evening when they entertain Gloucestershire at the Ford County Ground commencing at 7pm.

There is a galaxy of international stars on show including 39 year-old Sri Lanka legendry leg-spinner Muttiah Murilatharan, the world’s leading wicket-taker in Test cricket and one-day internationals who will play for the Gladiators throughout this year’s 20-over’s per side competition.

Tim Southee will make his home debut for the Eagles having signed a deal to become the county’s second overseas player for the tournament where he links up with fellow New Zealand Test and One-day international Scott Styris.

The 22 year-old Southee, who has played 13 Tests and 51 ODI’s, was the third leading wicket-taker at 2011 ICC World Cup with 18 wickets at 17.33 and is a fast medium swing bowler clocked consistently at 85mph whilst he is also a hard-hitting lower order batsman.

He admits that the opportunity to link-up with the experienced Scott Styris was a telling factor in agreeing to join Essex. “Scotty had an influence in my decision to join, he was here last year and he had nothing but good to say about it,” Southee said.

“Scotty said that they were a great group of guys but I also spoke to a number of players who have played county cricket over here for a while, people like fellow New Zealanders Hamish Marshall and James Franklin and they had a lot of good things to say about the experience.

“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do so this is a great chance for me and I’m really looking forward to it. I was lined up to play for the first two months with Essex in the County Championship but then I got an offer to play in the IPL.

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“Luckily, Essex still wanted me for the twenty20’s and it’s going to be a great experience and another challenge.”

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

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

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