Essex Eagles play their final two Vitality Blast South Group round matches this weekend starting with a trip down to the Ageas Bowl for a clash with Hampshire Hawks on Friday starting at 2pm.

Then on Sunday, they entertain Middlesex on Sunday at The Cloudfm County Ground starting at 2.30pm.

Both are must-win matches for the Eagles who also have to rely on favourable results elsewhere if they are to progress to the knockout stages of the competition.

Whatever the outcome, Eagles head coach Anthony McGrath is delighted with the progress made by some of the younger members of the T20 squad this year and he was quick to extol their virtues.

Will Buttleman, Sam Cook, Michael Pepper and Jack Plom have all prospered and have become integral members of the squad.

East London Advertiser: Will Buttleman of Essex in batting action during Essex Eagles vs Sussex Sharks, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 15th June 2021Will Buttleman of Essex in batting action during Essex Eagles vs Sussex Sharks, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 15th June 2021 (Image: ©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468)

“Those lads have all done well for us this season and that is really pleasing,” McGrath said.

“We’ve blooded younger players this year and those lads are all 24 years of age or under and you have to take that into account when assessing results.

"Young players don’t bring the burden of baggage, they do bring flair although they have to show they are good enough.

“There is pressure on them though to perform because we want to be winning every game.

"They have been given the chance to show what we’ve seen them do in practice.

"When you bring younger players into a team, it’s a question of getting the balance of the side right and mixing the younger guys with the experienced ones to get that blend you want for success.

“It doesn’t always work, of course, but you won’t know that until you give them the chance to show what they can do. I’m delighted with them; they’ve all done good things this season and they have been shining lights in our season.

“Also Dan Lawrence who is more experienced of course has just turned 24 and so these, hopefully, are the players that will be the core of the side in the years to come.

"They will learn from the experiences they are getting now and that will stand them in good stead in future years.”

McGrath accepts that there have been some disappointing results in this format of the game often caused by some below-par performances with the bat.

“We haven’t put as many runs on the board as we’d have liked in T20 this year,” he admitted. “The successful sides have players who have scored 70’s or 80’s but our highest individual score has been 59 and that’s frustrating.

“We are a work in progress in T20 cricket, we’ve set our targets and it’s about doing our best to realise those ambitions. On occasions, we’ve looked a good unit in all disciplines but the challenge is to bring a level of consistency to our game.

“I’ve said on a number of occasions that building momentum is important, you win a few games back- to-back and the confidence flows through the players.

“T20 is so short that it only takes one player, whether a batter or a bowler and that can take the game away from you.

“Even though we won the competition in 2019, it’s fair to say that our overall form in T20 cricket fall short of where we want it to be and that remains a challenge for us.

“We haven’t hit the heights regularly in this format of the game and we are all working to find the key to consistency and the success we want.”