Essex host Hampshire as One-Day Cup campaign begins
PUBLISHED: 16:13 29 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:30 29 April 2017
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County side unbeaten in first three championship matches
Essex take a diversion from red-ball cricket for the next three weeks as they concentrate on the Royal London One-Day Cup competition, starting with the visit of Hampshire on Sunday (11am)
The Eagles will play all eight matches in the South Group during this period and have named a 14-man squad for the opening encounter that includes former England Test captain Alastair Cook, plus fit-again paceman Matt Quinn.
Head coach Chris Silverwood admits that he is spoilt for choice when it comes to naming the starting line-up, saying: “There is real healthy competition for places but it’s a nice headache to have.
“It’s going to be a real tough decision to decide who is left out on Sunday but as I’ve said before, it’s a long season and everyone will get their chance at some stage.
“Personally, I’m pleased that the 50-over matches are being played in a block because it’s a lot easier to channel the attention of the players into the format. “We’ve had a tough three weeks of very hard Championship cricket and I think the boys have done really well.
“If someone had said to me at the start of the season that we’d have a win and two draws from our first three games, I would have been over the moon. All credit to the players for achieving that.
“Now we have to re-focus on the One-Day Cup. The first challenge at this stage is to reach the quarter-finals but we won’t look too far ahead. It’s an old cliché but we will take each game as it comes and give it our best shot and see where that takes us.
“We will treat every game as a must-win match and give it everything we’ve got.”
Team selection will be made harder for the former England, Yorkshire and Middlesex bowler with the return of New Zealand–born Quinn who suffered a back problem in 2016 that forced him to miss out on the last two months of the season.
Now after months of re-assessment of the injury and subsequent rehabilitation, the 24 year-old is ready to resume his career to the delight of Silverwood.
He added: “We know he is a really good bowler and he’s worked really hard to get to this point. He’s put in some good shifts in the second team and so it’s good to have him back to bolster our pace attack.”
Opponents Hampshire have enjoyed the benefit of already playing a match in this year’s competition having beaten Kent Spitfires at Canterbury by six wickets on Thursday.
Tom Alsop hit an unbeaten 112, whilst Reece Topley claimed three wickets and Sunday’s match represents the opportunity of a return visit to Chelmsford for the fast bowler.
Now 23 years of age, the six foot seven inch tall Topley progressed through the Academy at Chelmsford, but left Essex at the end of the 2015 season.
Other players with links between the two current squads include batsman/wicket-keeper Adam Wheater and all-rounder Liam Dawson, who spent a brief period on loan with Essex in 2014 .
Wheater started his career with Essex in 2008, left in 2013 to link up with the South Coast county, but returned to his native roots towards the end of last season having signed a two-year deal until the end of the 2018 campaign.
Essex Eagles squad:
Varun Chopra (6)
Nick Browne (10)
Simon Harmer (11)
Neil Wagner (13)
Tom Westley (21)
Ravi Bopara (25)
Alastair Cook (26)
Ryan ten Doeschate (27) Captain
Dan Lawrence (28)
Adam Wheater (31) Wicket-keeper
Jamie Porter (44)
Callum Taylor (67)
Matt Quinn (94)
Ashar Zaidi (99)
*Essex have also announced a partnership with the Chelmsford branch of global food chain, Taco Bell.
The local franchisee of Taco Bell has committed to a three-year sponsorship agreement implementing branding around The Cloudfm County Ground but also introducing supporter benefits.
On any occasion Essex Eagles score over 300 runs in the Royal London One-Day Cup and over 200 runs in the NatWest T20 Blast competitions, all supporters will receive a free taco from Taco Bell upon presentation of a valid match ticket or Membership card at the store in Chelmsford High Street.
Darrell Fox, Essex Cricket Commercial Manager, said: “We are thrilled to secure a globally renowned brand like Taco Bell. The Chelmsford branch have shown a real appetite to be involved with the club.
“They have also introduced an innovative supporter initiative, which will reward Essex Eagles fans when the team are successful. We welcome Taco Bell to Essex Cricket and hope they are a major part of the club’s success going forward.”
Andy Molloy, Essex Franchisee of Taco Bell, added: “This is a perfect relationship and very exciting opportunity for Taco Bell as we are always keen to work with local business and engage with local fans.
“We see this as a chance to partner with the county’s biggest sports club and celebrate with the locals by rewarding supporters with the tastes of Taco Bell.”