Shah makes championship debut against former county

ESSEX continue their LV County Championship campaign when they entertain Middlesex at the Ford County Ground this morning with the match scheduled to commence at 11am.

Essex have named a 12-man squad for the game and taking his place in the line-up for will be Owais Shah who will be making his Championship debut for the county with a twist of irony dictating that his former county provide the opposition.

The home side have also been boosted by the return of Ravi Bopara. The all-rounder had been widely tipped for a Test recall but was usurped by a late bid from Eoin Morgan who outperformed the Essex all-rounder in the England Lions against Sri Lanka when scoring 193 to win favour with the national selectors.

This will be the county’s seventh match of the season in the competition and with Gloucestershire to face at Bristol next week, half of their scheduled 16-match programme in the competition will have been completed within the first two months of the season.

Fast bowler David Masters is one player in particular who feels the physical burden from the intense programme of early season matches having sent down 180 overs – more than any other fast bowler in Championship cricket.

“It’s been full-on right from the start really and there’s been little time for rest or net practice,” he said.

“To be out there day in and day out does take a lot out of you. Our first innings scores generally have left us playing catch-up cricket a lot of the time and as a bowler, that adds pressure because there’s no room for error really and you gave to do the right things all the time.

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“So it was good to get 500 plus last week at Whitgift against Surrey and hopefully, things will start to turn around for us now.”

Essex are seeking to avenge an eight-wickets drubbing by Middlesex when the teams met at Lord’s last month whilst their opponents arrive in Chelmsford still smarting from a surprise defeat by Glamorgan their latest championship match and missing England stars, Andrew Strauss, Steven Finn and Morgan.

Essex (from): J Foster (capt/wkt), M Pettini, J Mickleburgh, O Shah, R Bopara, M Walker, A Wheater, G Napier, T Phillips, D Masters, C Wright, R Topley.

Middlesex (from): N Dexter (capt) S Robson, C Rogers, D Housego, D Malan, J Simpson (wkt) G Berg, J Dalrymple, T Murtagh, T Roland-Jones, C Collymore, A Ireland.