The Eagles head into Thursday’s Royal London One-Day Cup play-off match against Yorkshire Vikings brimming with confidence after three consecutive wins in the competition.
Alastair Cook returns to the squad to bolster the batting ranks and Anthony McGrath believes his side have found form at the right time heading into a crucial encounter at The Cloudfm County Ground.
“We had been a bit inconsistent earlier on in the competition but those last three matches have seen us really get our act together,” he said. “The win over Kent Spitfires was probably the nearest you will get to a perfect performance in one-day cricket.
“Now we have to carry that level into the tie with Yorkshire, who are a good side, and we know the standards we have to achieve on Thursday if we want continue in the competition.
“It’s a bonus to have a home tie and to have the majority of the crowd behind us but whoever and wherever you play; you know you are going to be in for a tough game.
“Every team in the play-offs knows that you are only two wins from a Lord’s Final, that’s the incentive for all of us, not only the players but all the staff and supporters and hopefully, we can take everyone one step closer to that Lord’s Final.”
The Eagles will be without their Captain, Ryan ten Doeschate, who is suspended for the next two matches after an incident in the Lancashire County Championship game.
Eagles Head Coach McGrath added: “Obviously it’s a bitter blow to lose Ryan who has led the side superbly ever since assuming the captaincy. I’m really disappointed for him because I know how passionate he is about leading the side and bringing success to the Club.
“But now we have to now plan for the next two matches without him.”
Essex and Yorkshire have clashed on four occasions in knockout cup ties at Chelmsford since 2000 and the honours have been evenly shared.
The teams met twice in 2002, firstly in a Benson & Hedges Cup tie that the home side won by 7 wickets after an unbeaten 136 by Nasser Hussain. Then in a C&G Trophy quarter final tie when Yorkshire won a thrilling contest by virtue of losing fewer wickets when a certain Anthony McGrath, playing then for the White Rose, ended 72 not out.
In a Friends Provident Trophy tie in 2008, the home side won by 87 runs and McGrath again top-scored for Yorkshire.
The teams then met at the quarter final stage in the Royal London Cup in 2015 when Yorkshire emerged winners by 20 runs.
So does the current Essex Head Coach have any sentiments about playing his former County where he spent 17 years as a player?
“Not at all,” he insists. “I loved my time there but that’s all in the past, all my focus now is with Essex and trying to help them with trophies.”
The Eagles have named a 13-man squad for the match against Yorkshire Vikings.
Essex Eagles squad:
21 Tom Westley (C)
31 Adam Wheater (WK)
25 Ravi Bopara
6 Varun Chopra
1 Matt Coles
26 Alastair Cook
16 Sam Cook
11 Simon Harmer
28 Dan Lawrence
44 Jamie Porter
94 Matt Quinn
13 Neil Wagner
99 Ashar Zaidi