Shell-shocked Essex face Gloucestershire

AFTER been trounced by Somerset on Wednesday night, a shell-shocked Essex are back in action tonight at Bristol where they face Gloucestershire in a Friends Life t20 match.

The Eagles put on a woeful display against Somerset when they were beaten by 143 runs, a domestic t20 record, having been set 226 for victory as only two batsmen managed to reach double figures. There was also the unedifying sight of top-scorer and vice-captain Ravi Bopara, who made 29, arguing and remonstrating with the opposition upon the loss of his wicket and at one point, umpire Rob Bailey had to step between the Essex all-rounder and a Somerset player before persuading the opener to return to the dug-out.

Forty-eight hours earlier, captain James Foster had been seen arguing with umpire David Millns after he had been dismissed with the batsman pleading that the delivery had been over waist height. The argument again ensured for some time and was also shown to a wider Sky television audience.

Maybe both incidents underline the frustrations of what has been a disappointing start to the Essex t20 season, but they need to show strong character and good temperament if they are to turn things around.

The mood would not have been helped by the injury to Scott Styris who pulled up in the middle of his fourth over with a hamstring problem that prevented him from batting as Essex slumped to 82 all out, their lowest score in t20 history.

Styris is likely to be out of action for a couple of weeks and with Graham Napier also sidelined with a hamstring problem, the county have lost two potential match-winners as they face up to a challenging time in a bid to save their t20 season.

Tonight’s match with Gloucestershire offers Essex a realistic chance to chalk up a much-needed success having comprehensively beaten the Gladiators by 122 runs at Chelmsford two weeks ago.

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Essex have named a 12-man squad for the match that includes 17-year-old pace bowler Reece Topley who is in line to make his t20 debut.

Gloucestershire (from): A Gidman (capt) H Marshall K O’Brien, K Williamson, I Cockbain, C Taylor, E Young, R Coughtrie (wkt), I Saxelby, D Payne, M Muralitharan, J Lewis, W Gidman.

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

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