Essex coach McGrath draws on positives
PUBLISHED: 12:30 29 June 2018
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Essex head coach Anthony McGrath looked at the positives after seeing the defending champions draw their match with Somerset at Chelmsford on Thursday.
The visitors were set 319 for victory, after Essex declared at 208-7 in their second innings and wobbled to 116-5 with 90 minutes still to play.
But Somerset captain Tom Abell and Lewis Gregory dug in to see their side to the close without further loss and McGrath sad: “Credit goes to both teams, I think it would have been very easy to play out for a draw. We were looking at results around the country and we wanted to try and force a win.
“Fair declaration, I thought, it gave both teams a chance. You saw Somerset went for it. But ultimately with the pink ball on a flat wicket it didn’t really help both teams. It showed if you wanted to defend on that wicket you could do that.
“It was always a tricky one because you want to dangle a carrot for them to go for it. I thought six an over from the start would make them do that, but you saw that they lost five wickets, and after that we had literally every man around the bat.
“The soft ball just didn’t bounce, and if it had been the red ball (Simon) Harmer would have got more out of the pitch. But it wasn’t to be. I thought it was a good game of cricket, a game which could have petered out to a draw went to the death.”
Essex’s batsmen turned in an improved performance, with captain Ryan ten Doeschate hitting a career-best 173 not out in their first innings 517-5, while Ravi Bopara scored 118 and 58 and Nick Browne added 66 and 75 on his return to the side following injury.
McGrath added: “You’ve got to take criticism when it’s deserved, and our batting has deserved some criticism. But we know when we get runs on the board we are a very difficult team to beat.
“Hopefully that’s on a template how we’re going to go on with our batting for the last six games of the season. Surrey are ahead in the race, all we can do is try and win our games and pull that deficit back.
“After these three games we’ve just had – a great win at Lancs, an awful game against Notts and we played most of the cricket here – I’ll assess this phase we’ve had that we’ve played at 70-80 per cent, if that.
“So I’m hoping we can take this performance on seven or eight weeks into the last six games and really play our best cricket.”
Essex are currently in fourth place, 37 points behind leaders Surrey having played one game more than their London rivals.
They now turn their attention to the Vitality T20 Blast, starting against Sussex Sharks at Chelmsford on Wednesday (6.30pm).