Essex Eagles into Royal London One Day Cup quarter-finals
PUBLISHED: 08:04 03 August 2016 | UPDATED: 08:04 03 August 2016
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Varun Chopra agrees to return
Essex booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Royal London One Day Cup, despite seeing their final group match at Gloucestershire washed out.
And their progress into the last eight came after news that Varun Chopra had agreed to return to the county from Warwickshire and had signed a three-year deal.
Eagles travelled to Bristol on the back of a four-run defeat against Middlesex at Lord’s, needing a victory to ensure they would go through.
But Ravi Bopara’s men were frustrated by the weather in the west country, which originally saw the fixture reduced to 38 overs per side.
Bopara won the toss and put the home side into bat, but more rain began to fall as the players took the field and, after a lengthy delay, umpires Martin Saggers and Michael Burns were left with no option but to abandon the match, giving both sides one point each.
That left Eagles facing a nervous wait to see if rivals Kent, Surrey and Hampshire won their matches elsewhere and nerves started to jangle when Kent eased to a seven-wicket success over Sussex at Hove.
Surrey then squeezed past Middlesex by five wickets at Lord’s in a match reduced to 16 overs, with former Essex player Ben Foakes hitting a vital 45 in their run chase, which meant all eyes were on Hampshire’s clash with leaders Somerset at Taunton.
The home side, with a home tie in the knockout stage already assured, made 250-9 after a century opening stand and took wickets at regular intervals in Hampshire’s reply as they visitors came up agonisingly short on 245.
That left Essex in third place in the South Group and they will now travel to Warwickshire for their quarter-final tie on August 17 or 18.
All-rounder Ashar Zaidi took to social media to express his delight, tweeting: “Yesssss another @RL_Cricket Quarter final. Awesome @EssexCricket #Eagles.”
Essex will now return to their Specsavers County Championship promotion campaign as they welcome Sussex at Colchester’s Castle Park for their latest Division Two match, which starts tomorrow (Thursday).
Ryan ten Doeschate’s side currently hold a seven-point lead over Worcestershire in the race for the title and the sole promotion spot.
Head coach Chris Silverwood was delighted to secure the services of Chopra and said: “We are Varun is rejoining us and coming back to the club where he started his professional career.
“His Division One experience will be invaluable to our batting line-up and younger players.”
Barking-born Chopra played club cricket for Ilford before making his county championship debut for Essex in 2006 and developing into a promising opening batsman.
Chopra has won county championship, one day and T20 titles at Edgbaston and was club captain of Warwickshire in 2015.
He said: “I’m delighted to be rejoining Essex, a club where I have fond memories from the early stages of my career.
“I look forward to returning as a more develpoed player and being part of a talented, ambitious and exciting team led by Chris Silverwood.”
Chopra’s deal begins after the current season and runs to the end of September 2019.