Grayson concerned by side’s lack of consistency

ESSEX meet Glamorgan at the Ford County Ground this evening having dropped out of the top-four in the South Group of the Friends Life t20 competition following their nine runs defeat by leaders Hampshire at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday night.

The Eagles now need to win both of their final two matches if they are to have a chance of reaching the knockout stages and even then, they will be dependent on results from elsewhere proving favourable.

Having swept aside Somerset on Monday with a scintillating display, the follow-up against Hampshire 48 hours later was in total contrast with a number of deficiencies that had affected the side’s performances during the competition again in evidence as Coach Paul Grayson acknowledged.

“I’m really concerned about the lack of consistency within the side,” he said. “We played really well at Bath on Monday and showed what a good side we can be in this form of the game and then we go to the Rose Bowl 48 hours later and turn in a disappointing effort.

“That has happened all too often this season and we’ve not been able to string three or four wins together. The defeat by Hampshire means that we find ourselves now in a situation where, with two games to go, we have to win both matches and hope that results elsewhere favour us to allow us to reach the quarter-finals.”

Grayson still believes that his side could prove formidable opponents in the knockout stages of the competition should they reach the latter stages. “I’ve said for the past few weeks that finishing in the top four was the aim and if we can do that, then I’m sure that whoever we are drawn against, they won’t fancy playing us,” he stated.

“But we’ve got to get into the hat first of all and to do that; we need to play better than we did at the Rose Bowl. Sometimes, I just don’t know what I’m going to get from this team. That’s the nature of this competition and the nature of the way that we’ve played this year.

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“We’ve had a few injuries with Napes (Graham Napier) out for a while and Scott (Styris) missing a lot of cricket and that hasn’t helped. But there are no excuses; we are in the situation we are because we haven’t played particularly well and consistently well overall.”

The absence of Kiwi Styris for much of the campaign has been a huge loss to the county. He has missed half of the 14 matches so far having suffered a torn calf muscle in the match with Somerset on June 15 and although he returned to play against Kent last Friday having missed the previous four games, the injury flared up again whilst he was batting and has forced him to sit out the three matches since then.

The Eagles are hoping that he will be fit to play this evening and he is named in a 13-man squad that will be led by Ravi Bopara in the absence of James Foster who serves the second of his two-match ban imposed by the ECB for a breach of their discipline regulations. Seventeen year-old pace prospect Reece Topley is not included having linked up with the England Under-19 squad.

Glamorgan have named a 14-man squad. Dean Cosker and Graham Wagg both have niggling injuries and will miss the match whilst Mark Cosgrove will also have a fitness test on his side strain. In addition, spinner Robert Croft has decided to step aside to allow other squad players an opportunity to play.

The match is scheduled to commence at 7pm.

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

Glamorgan squad: A Petersen (cap), M Cosgrove, J Allenby, G Rees, S Walters, M O’Shea, C Cooke, D Brown, M Wallace (wk), N James, J Harris, A Jones, S Jones, W Owen.