Neesham looks to soar with Essex Eagles

New Zealand's Jimmy Neesham (right) celebrates after taking the wicket of India's Yuzvendra Chahal during the ICC World Cup

New Zealand's Jimmy Neesham (right) celebrates after taking the wicket of India's Yuzvendra Chahal during the ICC World Cup - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Jimmy Neesham is eagerly looking forward to his time with Essex as the Eagles commence their Vitality Blast campaign this week.

The New Zealand all-rounder is the one new face in the Eagles line-up as the squad look to repeat their success in 2019 when they lifted the trophy for the first time in their history.

“We’ve got a great chance to get some momentum going in the early stages of the tournament because we have to play four games in 7 days, so it’s a pretty hectic start,” he said.

“But it does give us the chance to put 4-daycricket on the back-burner and really focus on the start of a demanding T20 campaign. Towards the back-end of the schedule, we get a bit longer between matches and we can potentially reassess the tactical side of our game.

“But T20 is a massive momentum game and that’s why it’s so important to hit the ground running this week.”

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Essex head coach Anthony McGrath is delighted to add Neesham to his squad, saying: “When we looked at our performance in the competition at the end of last season, we felt we needed to add another all-rounder to the T20 squad. With all of his talent and experience, Jimmy fits the bill perfectly.

“He’s excelled with both the bat and the ball on the biggest of stages for his country, as well as in the global franchise competitions and it’s a great match for both the player and the club.”

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The Eagles meet Somerset at Taunton on Wednesday night then host Hampshire at The Cloudfm County Ground on Friday before they hit the road to Cardiff to engage Glamorgan on Sunday. To complete an intense early schedule, they entertain Sussex at Chelmsford next Tuesday.

Neesham was a key figure in the memorable England v New Zealand World Cup Final in 2019 at Lord’s with England declared winners on boundary countback after runs scored in the ‘Super Over’ failed to separate the two teams.

England scored 15 from the “additional” over before the reply started with a wide from the first ball. Neesham then scored 13 from the next five deliveries, including a towering six into the Tavern Stand when facing express paceman Jofra Archer, leaving Martin Guptill to face the final ball.

The batsmen scrambled one run before Guptill was run out attempting a second run that would have given New Zealand the trophy.

Now the 30 year-old Neesham, who was born in Auckland but who plays domestic cricket for Wellington, is back in England having previously represented Derbyshire in 2016 and Kent in T20 the following season plus having also played club cricket here for Upminster in 2010.

He has played 12 Tests, 63 ODIs, 24 T20Is and competes regularly in the IPL ready and brings his experiences of playing global cricket to bolster the Eagles hopes of a second T20 title in three years.

He soon settled into his new surroundings with a relaxing game of golf that saw him achieve a hole in one and is eagerly looking forward to spending time with his new colleagues whilst also casting an eye on the compact Chelmsford ground.

“I already know Tendo (Ryan ten Doeschate) and Matty (Matt Quinn) and I’m looking forward to spending time with the other guys,” said Neesham.

"It was something that I thought about when I signed, getting to bat on the Chelmsford ground regularly.

“With the ball, it will pose a challenge but that is the great thing about being an all-rounder in T20 cricket that you get both sides of the coin.

“If I do go for a few runs with the ball, then hopefully, I can make it up with the bat.”

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