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T20: Essex Eagles excited about Vitality Blast Finals Day

PUBLISHED: 14:06 20 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:06 20 September 2019

Simon Harmer of Essex celebrates taking the wicket of Sam Billings during Essex Eagles vs Kent Spitfires, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 30th August 2019

Simon Harmer of Essex celebrates taking the wicket of Sam Billings during Essex Eagles vs Kent Spitfires, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The Cloudfm County Ground on 30th August 2019

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Essex Eagles will be appearing in Vitality Blast Finals Day for the first time since 2013 when they meet Derbyshire on Saturday at Edgbaston.

Simon Harmer of Essex celebrates taking the wicket of Harry Finch during Sussex Sharks vs Essex Eagles, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The 1st Central County Ground on 22nd August 2019Simon Harmer of Essex celebrates taking the wicket of Harry Finch during Sussex Sharks vs Essex Eagles, Vitality Blast T20 Cricket at The 1st Central County Ground on 22nd August 2019

Their match is the second semi-final to be played and the victors will meet the winners of the opening game between Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire.

The Eagles will be hoping they can reach the decider for the first time in their history as all four previous trips to Finals Day have seen Essex eliminated at the semi-final stage.

But this time around head coach Anthony McGrath is hoping that the Eagles can write a new chapter in the county's history.

"We are all excited about Finals Day, we've not been there for a while and it's something we are all looking forward to," he said.

"All four teams are there on merit and all of them will be thinking they have a chance of winning the competition and it's going to be their year. And they should do because it's Finals Day, and anything can happen.

"All we can do is to draw on what we've done in this competition, play how we we've been playing and hopefully, that will be enough."

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With a new captain Simon Harmer at the helm, the Eagles made it through to the quarter-finals with an unbeaten seven-match run in the second-half of the competition before a thrilling success over Lancashire in the quarter-final when Essex prevailed with four balls to spare.

"I was always confident that we would turn things around and once we got that run going, everything came together nicely," added McGrath.

"It's great for all the lads and particularly for Simon who took over the captaincy at the start of this season.

"He is his own man and he made some tough decisions but everyone backed him, not only coaching staff but players as well, and we are delighted for him that his endeavours have come to fruition. Hopefully, we can take the form we showed in the latter group stages and the quarter-final into Finals Day.

"Neither Adam Zampa nor Mohammad Amir are available which is disappointing because they have been an integral part of getting us through the group stages but it has given other members of the squad the opportunity to come in, put their hand up and show what they can do."

However, the Eagles do have hard-hitting opening batsman Cameron Delport in their line-up.

"He's been superb for us," McGrath said. "We wanted to be a bit more dynamic up front because strike rate is really important in this competition.

"He is not going to come off all the time but when he gets in, he is destructive. If he has a good five or six overs, he can score any amount of runs. He has got our innings off to a flying start a number of times and we are hoping he can repeat that not once but twice on Saturday."

Essex Eagles: Simon Harmer, Aaron Beard, Ravi Bopara, Sam Cook, Cameron Delport, Dan Lawrence, Aron Nijjar, Jamie Porter, Shane Snater, Ryan ten Doeschate, Paul Walter, Tom Westley, Adam Wheater.

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