Essex determined to finish the season strongly
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Despite being unable to retain either their County Championship or Bob Willis Trophy titles, Essex are heading towards the conclusion of the 2021 campaign in a rich vein of form.
After the round of ten matches in the Championship, the county had failed to reach a top-two position in their group and the opportunity to challenge once more for silverware as participants of Division One.
That meant they would contest their final four Championship games in Division Two with little more than pride at stake. But that has not stopped them from displaying the qualities that has brought them so much success in red-ball cricket over the recent six years.
“We’ve gone into the last four matches of the season knowing that we can’t win the County Championship title but that’s how things have panned out this year because of the Conference structure so that’s really disappointing for us,” Essex Head Coach Anthony McGrath admitted.
“But our commitment to try and win all four games remains and we don’t want September to be a month where we just dragged our heels and went through the motions because we owe it to our members, supporters, ourselves and everyone at the club to put in our best performances.
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“We’ve started the first of those four matches with the most comprehensive of wins over Glamorgan in just over two days and it took little more time to follow up with a convincing victory against Gloucestershire.
"Both were really professional and determined performances not only as a team but individually with bat, ball and in the field. In fact, they were reminiscent of so many red-ball displays from Essex over the last few years.”
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Glamorgan were beaten by an innings and 74 runs in Cardiff and Gloucestershire by an innings and 3 runs back at Chelmsford headquarters.
Whilst bowlers Jamie Porter, Sam Cook and Simon Harmer continued to thrive with the latter two involved in a nip and tuck race to be the frat of the county’s bowlers to reach 50 Championship wickets this season – Harmer has 49 and Cook 46 – McGrath also acknowledged the role played by Shane Snater particularly in the match at Cardiff when he took 6 for 39.
Born in Zimbabwe, the 25 year-old is a Dutch international and although he joined Essex in 2018 and played white-ball cricket, it was not until this season that he made his first appearance for the county in Championship cricket.
“Shane has been fantastic for us,” McGrath enthused. “He couldn’t get into the side at the start of the season but since he’s come into the team, he has really proved his worth and he’s been spot on.
"When Peter Siddle returned home to Australia “Shane has had to be patient to get his opportunity and he’s been excellent.
"We’ve seen him do so well in practice in the way in which he goes about his game and we know what a good cricketer he is. Although he is 25, he’s relatively inexperienced but
"He’s good in the field and a very useful performer with the bat.
"Hopefully, he is only going to get better, he’s someone who as really worked hard at his game and in terms of his bowling, he has been a real standout in every competition.
“Together with Jamie and Sam, they have proved a really effective pace trio. All three have bowled beautifully and been terrific for us.
“We’ve now got two more games to play starting with Surrey at The Oval on Sunday,” McGrath continued. ”I’ve stated on a number of occasions about my reservations with the Conference system and the fact that going into the last month of the season, 12 teams have little to play for apart from pride.
“They can’t challenge for the Championship title and there is no promotion or relegation but our players know how important it is for them to stay fully focussed and ensure that collectively we do our best to win each match.
“We need to be as professional as we can. We are representing Essex and we’ve been one of the best if not the best Championship side over the past few years and we want to prove to people that we are still right there as a competitive."