Hampshire v Essex: Westley wants legacy
PUBLISHED: 07:54 19 September 2017
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Tom Westley wants Essex’s present-day champions to create a lasting legacy that stands them alongside the legends of the 1970s, 80s and 90s in the club’s history.
Essex confirmed their first Specsavers County Championship title in quarter of a century with two games to spare when beat Warwickshire by an innings for the second time this season.
Their next goal is to go through the 14-game programme undefeated, continuing against Hampshire at Southampton today and concluding back at Chelmsford next week against Yorkshire.
Westley, the newest member of the ranks of Essex cricketers to play for England, said: “There has been a lot of talk about trying to create a legacy for ourselves now. There were exceptional times under Fletcher and Gooch, and all the Essex legends previously, so it would be great if this wasn’t just a one-off and we can back it up next year.
“Hopefully we can create that legacy and have continued success rather than it being a flash in the pan. I don’t think it will be as we’ve shown from winning Division Two and going straight up and winning Division One. That’s no mean feat.”
Essex have won eight of their 12 Championship matches to date, drawing the other four, and Westley added: “To go through the season undefeated would be a fantastic achievement and that is going to be our aim in these last two games.
“I don’t think we’re going to be playing a weakened team, even though we’ve got some fantastic cricketers to come in, with ‘Cooky’ potentially playing the last game as well.
“We’d love to remain undefeated, but the fact we’ve won the division already is going to take a bit of getting used to. There are a lot of people who want to finish the season strongly, score hundreds, take five-fers, but obviously that small factor of fighting for the title has been taken away because we’ve been so successful. It’s a bit of a Catch-22. But we will compete to the end.”
There has been much celebrating since Somerset beat Lancashire to give Essex an unassailable lead at the top – currently 56 points. But that has been a mere rehearsal for the celebrations planned when they receive the Championship trophy next week.
“It has been very important for us to celebrate our successes. We celebrate our successes as a team. It is certainly something that has changed over the last couple of years,” said Westley.
“Ryan ten Doeschate, Chris Silverwood and Anthony McGrath have made a big point of celebrating victories. And also remaining pretty level-headed when we lose. There is no coincidence that togetherness we’ve shown off the field has probably helped us on the field.”
Westley was conspicuous in joining in the celebrations that went on long into the night after the victory over Somerset at Chelmsford at the end of last month, even though he was between the second and third West Indies Tests with England.
“I originally went down to do some additional work between Tests with Anthony McGrath and hit some balls. But the way the boys played, and the way Porter bowled in the second innings, it was a no-brainer to stay down. That’s the environment that’s been created at Essex,” he said.
Though Essex’s success was beyond Westley’s “wildest dreams”, he still indulged in a bout of the banter within the England dressing room.
“I was saying when I was with the Lions that we were going to win the league. It was more in jest to rile some of the other lads. But the prophecy has been fulfilled!” he said.
As for his elevation into the full England squad, he added: “It’s been a surreal few months for me. Obviously I’d have like to score more runs, but it has been quite tough going. Some of the wickets were a bit fruity.
“The fact I can say I’ve played for England and been involved in two series wins, that is what dreams are made of. I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it.”
As for a winter fighting for the Ashes in Australia, Westley said: “I’m desperately hoping to get selected. I’ve always been one to stay quite level-headed and I want to give myself the best chance to play and get selected.”