PREVIEW | Essex v Worcestershire

TOM WESTLEY 

Essex continue their push for promotion when they meet Worcestershire in a Specsavers County Championship Division Two clash at The E.C.G. commencing on Wednesday. The home side are boosted by the availability of England Test captain Alastair Cook who is named in a 14-man squad.

Paul Walter, Ashar Zaidi and Aaron Beard are added to the side that trounced Leicestershire by an innings and 10 runs last week.

Essex have accrued 195 points and that represents a 24 point advantage over second-placed Kent whilst Worcestershire are in third place with 156 points. The trio have just three matches remaining but Sussex are also in contention with 152 points having played a game fewer and they entertain Kent at Hove, also starting on Wednesday.

Essex Head coach Chris Silverwood was understandably full of praise for his side’s victory at Grace Road last week after the visitors found themselves 68 for 5 at one stage.

“To recover from that position and go on and win the match so convincingly showed the character and gritty determination that runs through our side and all credit goes to every member of our squad,” he said.

“To pick up the full tally of available points was a terrific effort and improved our promotion prospects but we still have three matches to play and there are a few sides who will fancy their own chances of securing the one promotion place available. And, of course, we play Kent at Canterbury in our final fixture which could be the decider.

“We cannot afford to let our skills levels fall at all in these last three matches if we are to capitalise on all the good work we’ve put in so far this season. We’ve been able to prepare well for the game with Worcestershire but they will be formidable opponents and they come here off the back of an excellent win last week when they scored 400 to beat Northamptonshire.

“So we will need to be at the top of our game if we are to get the result we want.”

Alastair Cook scored 142 out of a total of 451 all out in the high-scoring match when Worcestershire and Essex clashed at New Road three months ago. The home side, for whom Joe Leach had returned bowling figures of 5 for 115, responded with 411 thanks to 128 from Brett D’Oliveira and an unbeaten 119 by Tom Kohler-Cadmore with Graham Napier the most successful bowler with 4 for 127. Cook then added a further 48 not out before the teams shook hands on the draw with Essex 95 for 2 declared.

Essex have three batsmen who start the match with Worcestershire in sight of 1,000 Championship runs this season. Nick Browne needs another 42 runs to reach the milestone for the second time in as many seasons, Tom Westley has scored 951 runs so far whilst skipper Ryan ten Doeschate has also enjoyed a fine summer with 908 runs to his credit.

Meanwhile, Jamie Porter is set to become the second Essex bowler to claim 50 Championship wickets this term. The paceman’s eight wicket haul against Leicestershire took his Championship figure to 49 for the campaign, five fewer than Graham Napier who has enjoyed a stellar summer with the ball in his last season before he retires.

New signing Adam Wheater will join up with the squad on Wednesday and be available for selection against Glamorgan.

Play begins at 11am for all 4 days of this match with gates open from 10am.

Squad:
Ryan ten Doeschate (27) captain
James Foster (7) wicket-keeper
Alastair Cook (26)
Will Rhodes (-)
Graham Napier (17)
David Masters (9)
Nick Browne (10)
Paul Walter (22)
Jamie Porter (44)
Tom Westley (21)
Aaron Beard (14)
Ravi Bopara (25)
Ashar Zaidi (99)
Dan Lawrence (28)