Essex look to maintain hold on top spot

PUBLISHED: 15:30 03 August 2016

Nick Browne has been in fine form for Essex this season (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Nick Browne has been in fine form for Essex this season (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

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Division Two leaders host Sussex at Colchester

Essex return to Specsavers County Championship action when they host Sussex at Castle Park, Colchester tomorrow (Thursday) and head coach Chris Silverwood has named a 13-man squad.

Former Sussex all-rounder Ashar Zaidi and teenage all-rounder Callum Taylor are included in the party as the home side look to maintain their hold on top spot in Division Two in the race for the one promotion spot.

The top four teams are separated by just 11 points and all have six matches remaining. Essex have 137 points, seven more than Worcestershire, with Gloucestershire and Leicestershire on 129 and 126 respectively.

Sussex and Essex met at Hove earlier in the season in a tightly-contested contest that ended in a draw, but Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate believes his side have improved since then.

“The game with Sussex offers us a stern test,” he said. “We had a good game with them down at Hove, but I feel we are a better side than we were then and we are still progressing and there is more to come from us as a team.

“I believe that 80 per cent of the time in Championship cricket, we have played well. There have been a couple of setbacks but by and large, we’ve performed well.

“Some individuals have had a very good season, particularly people like Tom Westley and Nick Browne with the bat. With the ball, the wickets have been shared about, but ‘Ports’, ‘Napes’ and ‘Quinny’ have performed really well for us at various times.

“One or two injuries have meant that a couple of bowlers have had a heavy work-load but overall, things have gone well for us as a team.

“We are in a good position but we need to build on that throughout the remainder of the season. In previous years at this stage, we have been chasing the top-placed clubs, but now we have a different challenge ahead of us and that is to consolidate our position at the top.

“I can feel the expectation of the players and the supporters and that is obviously good but the scenario from previous years is totally different this time around. In past years the attitude at this particular time was ‘let’s have a crack at it and see how close was can get’.

“Now it’s a case of protecting the position that we have worked hard to achieve. The way we do that is to win matches, hopefully starting at Colchester.”

Essex squad: Ryan ten Doeschate; James Foster; Callum Taylor; Ashar Zaidi; Nick Browne; Graham Napier; David Masters; Matt Quinn; Tom Westley; Dan Lawrence; Ravi Bopara; Jaik Mickleburgh; Jamie Porter.

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