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Essex back on home soil to continue title defence

PUBLISHED: 15:30 19 June 2018

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Essex turn their focus back on the red-ball game with back-to-back home matches in the Specsavers County Championship.

The defending champions welcome Nottinghamshire to the Cloudfm County Ground on Wednesday, having beaten Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford in their most recent outing in the competition.

A third victory in the four-day format this season saw them complete the double over the Red Rose county and head coach Anthony McGrath is hoping that his charges can add to that success over the next two matches.

“After these two games there is quite a gap before we play four-day cricket again because the T20 season starts,” he said.

“It’s important we get as many points as we can from these next two games. We are targeting at least one win from these two games and from where we are in the table right now, it would set us up nicely when we return to Championship cricket later in the season.

“I was delighted with the win against Lancashire, they are a good side and if you look at their side on paper, you would say that perhaps they are under-achieving a little bit.

“It was a really, really important win for us and to get two wins against them this season has been very satisfying. We’ve got them out of the way now and I’m sure they will pick up plenty of points this season.”

Essex will be without captain Ryan ten Doeschate for the match with Nottinghamshire as he completes a two-match ban and the side will be led in his absence by Tom Westley.

“It’s unfortunate that Ryan will be missing but we just have to get on with it,” added McGrath. “Any absence for whatever reason allows someone else to come in and grab their opportunity.”

Essex have managed just six batting bonus points this summer and that is an area McGrath is anxious to improve quickly.

“I still feel that there is a lot more to come from our side, particularly in the batting where I am looking for us to step up,” he said.

“The mitigating circumstances would be that the games have been fairly low-scoring affairs in our Championship matches this season. It’s not been easy, but we have been below-par with the bat. Having said that, we’ve still managed to pick up three wins.

“Hopefully we can start to get some serious runs on the board from now on and give our bowlers some runs to really play with. We do need to start getting more batting bonus points because they can really make a difference by the end of the season.

“If you look at the table now, I know the first game was washed out, but if you add in a few more batting points to the table, we’d be top and that shows just how important bonus points are.

“We have to start getting some serious batting points on the board and hopefully that can start against Nottinghamshire.”

The visitors, who were promoted from Division Two last season, start the match one place and six points adrift of third-placed Essex who, in turn are seven points behind leaders Somerset, who visit Chelmsford on June 25.

The West Country side have only played five matches, though, which is one fewer than Essex and Nottinghamshire.

Essex: Tom Westley; Adam Wheater; Ravi Bopara; Varun Chopra; Matt Coles; Alastair Cook; Simon Harmer; Dan Lawrence; Michael Pepper; Jamie Porter; Matt Quinn; Neil Wagner.

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