Essex Eagles captain Westley wants to bag fifth major trophy in London Cup
- Credit: Nick Wood/TGS Photo
Essex Eagles captain Tom Westley is hoping that the Royal London Cup competition can provide the club with their fifth major trophy in five years as he aims to be the first Essex skipper in more than a decade to win a 50-overs competition.
The last man to lead the county to a List A trophy was Mark Pettini who was just nine days past his 25th birthday when he skippered his Essex team to victory over old adversaries Kent in the 2008 Friends Provident Trophy Final at Lord’s.
During his 15 year playing career with the county spanning 413 matches, he amassed more than 13,300 runs across all formats and was just one boundary short of 4,000 in List A cricket.
A graduate with an astronomy degree from Cardiff University, maybe it was written in the stars that talented batsman Pettini was destined to experience seventh heaven when becoming the first Essex skipper to lift a one-day knockout cup trophy since 1997.
He had taken over the captaincy on a full-time basis In June 2007, after Ronnie Irani had been forced to retire due to a persistent knee injury and the replacement slipped comfortably into the leadership role.
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He roved from day one that the cloak of responsibility sat comfortably on his shoulders.
"When I was offered the captaincy, one of the reasons I really wanted to do it was because I believed the side could go places and win trophies and here we were at Lord’s with the chance to realise those aspirations," Pettini reflected.
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That season, his side also gained promotion from Division Two in the NatWest Pro4040 competition to complete a memorable "double” so the Brighton-born player is well-qualified to assess the requirements for success in the limited-overs game.
“We had a great mix of players in our side during that season,” he explained. “Guys that were at the top of their game, young players coming through and we knew how to win games of cricket. There was huge confidence about the side and we had very skilful cricketers able to perform under pressure.
“When you’ve got that mix of confidence and high skills, you have a good recipe for success. That year we believed, and probably rightly so, that we were the best one-day side in the country.
“With the ball, we had guys up front that regularly took wickets for us and then we had spinners and other seam bowlers who took wickets and kept the runs down.
"Every batsman was in good form, knew their role and executed that exceedingly well, we had depth to our batting and as a fielding side we took a lot of pride in our skills and getting on top of sides.
“We also had an excellent culture whereby if one or two players didn’t perform so well in a game, others would step forward and that was a big factor.”
It was sometime afterwards that he started to struggle with his form in championship cricket and that persuaded him to stand down from the captaincy halfway through 2010.
But he remained a permanent fixture in the one-day side where he continued to prove an effective performer at the top of the order until he left Essex to join Leicestershire in 2016 spending a couple of years with the Foxes before hanging up his boots.
But it was the times with Essex that remain close to Pettini’s heart.
“They are a special club,” he said. “Those three years I had leading the side were great and now whenever I look back on my career, those successes we had as a team are the fondest memories I have,” he admitted.
“Winning trophies as a team outweighs everything else you achieve personally."