James Franklin relishing ‘electric atmosphere’ at Chelmsford

OVERSEAS signing James Franklin is relishing the “electric atmosphere” generated at the Ford County Ground when he makes his home debut for Essex Eagles tomorrow night.

The New Zealand all-rounder made his Friends Life t20 bow for the county in last Wednesday’s 17-run defeat in the Eagles’ opening group game against Surrey at the Kia Oval.

Franklin, who arrived in England three weeks ago and has spent the last fortnight with his new team mates, said he jumped at the chance to play for Essex in this season’s competition.

“The opportunity was too good to turn down – I didn’t bother to explore too many other options. Essex are a quality t20 side – I have played against them in the past, so I know what a formidable side they are,” he said.

“Graham Napier and Owais Shah have also both played with me for Wellington and Ryan ten Doeschate has also played in New Zealand before.”

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Both Shah and ten Doeschate missed the start of the domestic season as they were involved in the fourth season of the Indian Premier League, which saw Franklin opening the batting for Mumbai Indians alongside Sachin Tendulkar.

Mumbai finished third in the IPL, and Franklin sees no reason why Essex can’t go all the way in the English equivalent of cricket’s shortest format and bring the coveted trophy back to Chelmsford for the first time.

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“Absolutely, but it is another thing going out there and walking the walk – we have got to win games of cricket,” said Franklin.

The 31-year-old, who has had spells in county cricket with Gloucestershire and Glamorgan, has previously played in both the championship and CB40 competitions at Chelmsford.

He said: “I know a bit about the atmosphere, but I have not played in a t20 game at Chelmsford before. The lads have said it is an electric atmosphere under the floodlights, so I am looking forward to that.”

Franklin, who shoulders the burden of being Essex’s sole overseas import in this season’s competition after Australian Peter Siddle pulled out, said of his role: “First and foremost I hope to put some runs on the board and contribute well with the ball.

“We have got six or seven bowling options, so we can spread the load and look to pick up some wickets.”

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