Grayson: We will not under-estimate Unicorns

ESSEX make the short journey to Bury St Edmunds tomorrow to face Unicorns in a Clydesdale Bank40 match at the Victory Ground, starting at 1.45pm.

The Unicorns, who are represented by players without full first-class county contracts, proved that they were more than a match for their professional colleagues with victories against Glamorgan, Sussex and Worcestershire during their inaugural season in 2010.

Essex first-team coach Paul Grayson will not be under-estimating the problems that the minnows might pose.

“We will certainly not be treating them with any lack of respect,” he stated.

“Sunday’s game is all about attitude and professionalism and if we show those two characters, then we will win the game. We should be too good for them but we will not be under-estimating them. They have some good cricketers, some who have played county cricket and would love the chance to have another opportunity.

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“They will be massively up for it and we have to show that we are equally ready.”

The venue is a ground that Grayson knows well.

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“When I finished playing for Essex, I spent two seasons playing for Bury,” he explained.

“It’s a very good club in a nice part of the country with a good set-up and nice people there. They will make us very welcome but we have to make sure that we get the points which is the most important thing.

The county have visited the ground previously and that occurred back in 1993 when they were drawn to face Suffolk in a NatWest Trophy match beating the Minor County, who were captained by former Essex slow left-armer Ray East, by an emphatic 121 runs margin.

Essex, who included Nasser Hussain, Graham Gooch, Derek Pringle and Mark Ilott amongst their line-up scored 251 for nine from their 60 overs on a slow wicket with John Stephenson top-scoring with 84 whilst Salim Malik hit 74 to offer chief support with the bat.

Slow bowler Andrew Golding, once on the county’s books, had the commendable figures of 12-4-15-2 but it was Pakistan Test cricketer Malik who took the man of the match award when he returned figures of 4-25 from 6.2 overs as the hosts were dismissed for 130.

A resurgent Essex will be looking to maintain their recent fine run having started their Championship season with two defeats and a draw before victory over Glamorgan gave the side the impetus they needed. They carried that momentum into their two home Clydesdale Bank40 matches last weekend to emerge with victories against Nottinghamshire and Lancashire and Grayson admits that his faith in his side never wavered.

“I never panicked because I always had 100% belief in the lads and that they would turn things around,” he stated.

“They are top-class cricketers who have been working very hard and the turning point came against Glamorgan in the Championship which gave us the win we needed to kick-start our season. We are now looking to build on from there.”

Unicorns squad: K Parsons (capt), J Thompson, M Thornely, C Benham, J Knapppett (wkt) J Campbell, L Reece, A Rashid, N Saker, R Querl, T.Friend, C Peploe, D Wheeldon, J Miles, A Ison.

Essex squad: J Foster (capt/wkt), A Cook, M Pettini, R Bopara, M Walker, B Godleman, J Mickleburgh, A Wheater, M Comber, G Napier, D Masters, T Phillips, C Wright, L Tsotsobe.

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