Essex head to Hampshire on a high
PUBLISHED: 12:54 18 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:54 18 September 2017
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Champions Essex have named a 13-man squad for their trip to the Ageas Bowl to take on Hampshire in their penultimate County Championship match of the season.
An innings victory against Warwickshire at Edgbaston last week secured the county crown for Essex to end a 25-year wait.
They have won 8 of the 12 matches played thus far, including six of their last seven, and are the only unbeaten side in either of the two divisions. They head to Southampton with an unassailable 56-point advantage over nearest rivals Lancashire, while Hampshire are fourth having won three matches.
Essex head coach Chris Silverwood lauded his squad’s triumph, saying: “To win the title having only been promoted last season is a tremendous achievement and it is something that has only been done once before.
“It would be lovely to go through the season unbeaten and although we have already won the league, there will be no let-up in our approach to the remaining two games.
“We have played some outstanding red-ball cricket this summer and have won a number of matches in three days which goes to illustrate the dominant and commanding force we have been.
“We have been ruthless but that’s the approach and attitude we want to keep building on. What we have seen this season is the result of all the hard work these guys have put in.
“Obviously, success brings confidence and self-belief; you could see that growing all the time and the longer the championship season went on, the more matches they won and the more that belief and confidence grew.”
Following the retirement of David Masters and Graham Napier, who combined to take over 100 wickets last year, there were a number of observers who felt that Essex would struggle to take sufficient wickets in Division One to enable them to win matches.
But astute winter recruitment and the advance of bowlers already on the staff has allayed those fears, with ever-emerging paceman Jamie Porter and South African Simon Harmer taking 60-plus wickets apiece.
“I always felt that ‘Ports’ would step up, he’d had 50-wicket hauls in each of the last two seasons in Division Two and he’s proved himself in Division One now, he’s been really flying for us,” added Silverwood.
“We knew we wanted a top-class off spinner and Simon Harmer has filled that role superbly and everyone can see he is a world class bowler.
“But all the players that have represented us this year have moved forward and all credit goes to each of them. It’s been an incredible season of red ball cricket and no one can doubt that the team deserve the title of champions.”
Essex: Ryan ten Doeschate (27); James Foster (7); Ravi Bopara (25); Nick Browne (10); Varun Chopra (6); Sam Cook (16); Simon Harmer (11); Dan Lawrence (28); Jamie Porter (44); Neil Wagner (13); Paul Walter (22); Tom Westley (21); Adam Wheater (31).