Mark Pettini to skipper Essex in absence of James Foster

ESSEX Eagles will be without James Foster for personal reasons when they take on Middlesex Panthers in the CB40 match at the Ford County Ground tomorrow, start 4.40pm.

Mark Pettini takes over the captaincy role while Adam Wheater dons the wicket-keeper’s gloves in a side that also includes James Franklin.

The Eagles currently have the New Zealander plus Harbhajan Singh registered for the competition but with a number of batsmen unavailable, head coach Paul Grayson has opted to play Franklin on this occasion.

“We are missing Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara who are with England, Owais Shah is still injured and with Fozzy unavailable, we felt we were a bit short on experienced batsmen and that’s why we are playing James Franklin”, he explained.

“Harbhajan totally understands and he’ll come into the Championship side on Thursday against Hampshire. Hopefully we can get a match in on Wednesday, get some cricket under our belts and obtain a positive result.”

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The wash out at Cheltenham on Sunday, where the Eagles were due to play Gloucestershire, left the Essex at the bottom of their CB40 group table but Grayson has not given up hope that a sustained winning run could yet steer the squad into the semi-final. “We’ve got six matches left and five wins could get us through,” he continued.

“Our players are very determined to give it a good crack in an attempt to do that but we go out to win every game we play anyway.”

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Reece Topley and Ben Foakes are also unavailable as they have joined the England Under-19 squad preparations ahead of the ICC Under-19 World Cup that starts next month.

However, Topley has been made available for the Friends Life t20 quarter-final with Somerset at Taunton next Tuesday.

Essex: M Pettini, J Franklin, T Westley, J Mickleburgh, R ten Doeschate, G Smith, A Wheater (wkt), G Napier, T Phillips, D Masters, T Mills.

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