Must-win game for Essex at Old Trafford

ESSEX face Lancashire at Old Trafford on Sunday in the Clydesdale Bank40 competition in what is a must-win game if they are to retain realistic prospects of reaching the semi-finals.

Both teams currently have 11 points from nine matches in Group C but leaders Somerset have 13 points having played only seven matches. Lancashire are in good form and enjoy an unbeaten run in their last five matches in the competition although one of those was washed out.

Only the three group winners plus the second-best placed runner-up progressing to the semi-finals and so victory for the visitors on Sunday is of paramount importance.

Essex head coach Paul Grayson admits that his squad need to find some consistency in their one-day cricket if they are to reach the semi-finals.

“Our four-day cricket has been excellent in the past few weeks, we’ve won three of our last four games and in fact we have only lost two championship matches all summer,” he said.

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“But we just haven’t been consistent enough in the white-ball game this year,” he said. “We have played some splendid cricket at times but then let ourselves down with some disappointing displays.

“We need to be at our best in these last three group matches and if we can achieve that, then I believe we can qualify either as the best second team or we could even head our group.

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“Lancashire have been playing some good cricket recently and we know we are in for a tough game. Every match from here is going to be like a cup final but we are ready for the challenge.”

Essex welcome back all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate, who was given a two-week break recently following a poor run of form, whilst batsman Matt Walker is also named in a 13-man squad following his recovery from a viral infection.

“Ryan has been suffering from a lack of confidence just recently but he’s had a complete rest and is determined to come back and hopefully play an important part in the back end of our season.

“We are hoping that he can rediscover his best form because he’s such an important cricketer for us,” added Grayson.

Lancashire squad: S Moore, T Smith, S Croft (capt), K Brown, P Horton, G Cross (wkt), O Newby, S Mahmood, S Parry, S Cheetham, Junaid Khan, G Keedy, J Clark.

Essex squad: M Pettini, A Wheater, O Shah, R ten Doeschate, M Walker, J Foster (capt/wkt), T Westley, J Mickleburgh, G Napier, T Phillips, C Wright, D Masters, T Craddock.

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