Shah returns to Essex squad to face Derbyshire

ESSEX welcome back Owais Shah for the LV= County Championship match, starting tomorrow, against surprise Division Two leaders Derbyshire.

Shah returns from the IPL where his side, the Rajasthan Royals, failed to make the knockout stages of the competition. The former England and Middlesex batsman is part of a 12-man squad for the match at the Ford County Ground in Chelmsford.

Also named in the home side’s squad is 19-year-old Ben Foakes who made his LV= County Championship debut at Grace Road last week in the match with Leicestershire and marked the occasion with an impressive 93.

Former Derbyshire all-rounder Greg Smith, who switched counties at the end of last season, is in line to face his former colleagues for his new side.

Derbyshire have won three of their first six matches and have 88 points to lead closest pursuers Yorkshire by 14 points whilst Essex start the match in fourth position with 56 points having been affected by the weather in a number of their matches.

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Head coach Paul Grayson admitted: “We have been so frustrated by the weather and all we are asking for ahead of the match is the opportunity to play four full days of cricket.

“It’s a good forecast this week, it should be a good pitch, plus two good sides and may the best team win. Derbyshire have played some good cricket this year, they are a well-balanced side and playing with a lot of confidence and we’ll have to be at our best to get a result.

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“I think that we’ve been playing some decent four-day cricket without quite getting over the line. There is a lot of cricket still to be played and if we get the opportunity to get a decent little run going, then we’ll be fine; we just need some decent weather.

“If you lose in four days, so be it but we back ourselves to win more matches than we lose. We’ve only played one full LV= County Championship match this season so that’s been very frustrating. It only seemed a few minutes ago that we were practising pre-season outdoors in the marquee on our ground and now we’ve had six Championship matches.

“We’ve got ten games to go, we are all aware that we’ve got to start winning some four-day games but it’s never easy when you haven’t got the conditions to do it.”

Essex and Derbyshire have met on 173 occasions in the LV= County Championship with the first meeting in 1895. Essex have a favourable record with 74 wins while 69 games have been drawn - including the two games in 2011 - with one match abandoned.

Essex squad: J Foster (capt, wkt), A Petersen, T Westley, O Shah, M Pettini, B Foakes, G Smith, G Napier, D Masters, C Willoughby, T Mills, T Craddock.

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