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Essex’s Lawrence looking to lend a hand

PUBLISHED: 11:08 29 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:08 29 July 2017

Essex's Dan Lawrence hits out during the NatWest T20 Blast match against Surrey at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford (pic Simon Cooper/PA)

Essex's Dan Lawrence hits out during the NatWest T20 Blast match against Surrey at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford (pic Simon Cooper/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Young batsman hoping to bowl more in T20 Blast

It is not for want of trying that Dan Lawrence has remained off Essex’s roster of bowlers in the NatWest T20 Blast this season.

The occasional off-spinner with the awkward action was Essex’s fourth best wicket-taker in the competition a year ago, only one victim behind all-round Ravi Bopara with 10.

Yet until he came on and claimed career-best figures of 3-21 from four overs against Middlesex at Lord’s on Thursday, he had not turned his arm over at all this summer.

“I’m always in the captain’s ear,” says Lawrence. “I’m always trying to get an over every now and then.

“But we’ve got a world-class off-spinner in Simon Harmer, so I can totally understand why I haven’t quite had the opportunities like I did last season. But it was nice to get the opportunity at Lord’s and thankfully they came out okay.

“It was just unfortunate that I didn’t contribute to a win, so that dampened it a little bit.”

Lawrence’s 13 T20 wickets have come at an average of 15.84 and a strike rate of 13.8. He often opened the bowling with the white ball last season, and an economy rate of 6.86 shows he is not one to be carted to every corner of the ground.

“I just try to bowl it fast and hope for the best really,” he adds. “It was nice to get a few overs under my belt and try and help the team go for as few runs as possible. T20 is the format of the game I enjoy bowling in the most.

“But we have got a lot of bowlers to choose from and you are not always going to get a go.”

Lawrence, of course, is primarily a batsman and, at just 20, one sufficiently highly thought of to have played for the England Lions this summer. He is rated the man most likely to follow Tom Westley into the full side in the not-too-distant future.

T20, though, has not been a particularly happy hunting ground with the bat; not until recently anyway. He recorded his highest score of 47 in spearheading Essex’s victory over Hampshire last week, following up with a skilful 29 in the heavy defeat by Middlesex.

“I was going along nicely, but again I’ve got to take much more responsibility and go and get us a match-winning 70 or 80. It is nice get starts, but it is time that anyone who gets going actually goes on to produce a match-winning performance.”

Essex’s T20 campaign is at tipping point as they prepare for tonight’s televised match against Gloucestershire under the lights at Chelmsford. They are bottom of a congested south group, but are only a defeat or two away from being out of contention for the knockout stages.

Lawrence said: “You have to stay positive every game you go into. We have a seriously talented squad where there are match-winners all the way through.

“There are six games left and if we get on a little winning streak then you never know. The talent is definitely there, we just need to start putting performances together.”

*Essex have named a 14-man squad for the visit of Gloucestershire, with young fast bowler Sam Cook added after impressing for the Second XI and in line for a T20 Blast debut, should he appear.

Head coach Chris Silverwood admitted he was bitterly disappointed with the defeat to Middlesex, saying: “We came knowing that a win would put us in a strong position in the South Group but obviously, those hopes have taken a knock.

“We said we would go hard down the order but on Thursday, it didn’t work. Against Hampshire recently we were excellent but unfortunately, it hasn’t worked against Middlesex, but we’ll keep going.

“There were a couple of positives to take from Thursday’s match. Dan Lawrence was our stand-out bowler and he also did well with the bat and he is emerging as a real strong talent for us. It was also great to see James Foster play the way he did and it was a fantastic innings.

“It can be frustrating with the inconsistency in our performances but what I will say is that we’ve got some good kids in our team who are learning all the time, so you are going to get inconsistencies.

“Obviously, there is plenty of work to be done but at the same time, I think that it is very important that we keep positive and keep pushing towards our goals and keep aiming to win every game we can.”

Essex Eagles: Ryan ten Doeschate (27); James Foster (7); Mohammad Amir (5); Ravi Bopara (25); Varun Chopra (6); Sam Cook (16); Matt Dixon (30); Simon Harmer (11); Dan Lawrence (28); Jamie Porter (44); Callum Taylor (67); Paul Walter (22); Adam Wheater (31); Ashar Zaidi (99).

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