Time to stop Essex being a ‘yo-yo’ county

Essex cricket head coach Paul Grayson

Essex cricket head coach Paul Grayson - Credit: Archant

HEAD coach Paul Grayson is calling on his players to stop Essex being a ‘yo-yo’ county.

Since the formation of two divisions of the LV= County Championship Essex have been unable to sustain a place in Division One.

Grayson, left, said that promotion from Division Two remains the county’s priority ahead of the new season.

He said: “We have been a yo-yo team for too long. We need to get up and not come down again.

“Our short-term objective is to get up and in the mid-term to long-term it is to have a long stay in Division One of the County Championship.

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“The depth of the squad has been a problem, but this year it is geared up for all formats. The players know it is all about performances this year.

“We have six excellent fast bowlers and competition in the batting places. We have a nice balance between youth and experience.”

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Two of the county’s home-grown Academy players, Ben Foakes and Reece Topley, toured Australia with England Lions during the winter, and Grayson said: “They both did well and the feedback we have had was good.

“They are both gaining experience all the time and are two of the most exciting prospects in the country.

“I honestly believe we have four or five of the best young players in the country.

“Tymal Mills has also been on a Lions Tour and then we have batsmen Tom Westley and Jaik Mickleburgh, who are still relatively young players who came of age last year and showed maturity the longer the season went on.”

Essex play a three-day friendly away to Cambridge MCCU, starting at Fenner’s today, before opening their LV County Championship Division Two campaign at home to Gloucestershire a week today.

Grayson said: “Our pre-season preparations have gone well, especially compared to some counties who are struggling with the weather.

“We are in a good place at the moment. You can have all the practice and preparation you want, but ultimately it is about putting that into place and winning games.”

Essex finished fifth in Division Two last season, although the loss of more than 1,800 overs to the weather was a factor in their failure to win promotion.

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