Essex look to keep up pace

PUBLISHED: 10:00 24 April 2016

Essex's Matt Dixon (centre) celebrates a wicket with team-mates (pic: Gareth Fuller/PA)

Essex's Matt Dixon (centre) celebrates a wicket with team-mates (pic: Gareth Fuller/PA)

PA/Press Association Images

Silverwood pleased with start to season

Early leaders Essex will look to maintain their good start to the County Championship Division Two season when they host Northamptonshire at the County Ground.

Head coach Chris Silverwood has named a 13-man squad, with David Masters and Aaron Beard added to the side that drew with Sussex at Hove earlier this week.

Silverwood told the club’s website: “We’ve made a pleasing start to the season, the lads have been in the runs throughout the order with good partnerships all the way down so we’ll be hoping that will continue.

“From the bowling perspective, we’ll look to keep pushing forward from the start we’ve made in that department.

“We’ve been very good at stages in all our games and we’ve just got to keep learning and keep driving ourselves on and making sure that whatever we do, it’s to the best of our ability.

“There were a lot of good things that came out of the four days at Hove, it was a really tough hard-fought game of cricket as we knew it would be. But it was really enjoyable and a great advert for Championship cricket.

“We had to dig deep at times, possibly deeper than we’ve had to do for some time but the good thing was that we found a way to get back into the game each time.

“We always found solutions and somebody always came to the fore.”

Essex started their campaign with a comprehensive 10-wicket home success against Gloucestershire before the trip to Hove to face pre-season promotion favourites Sussex.

Trailing by 40 runs on first innings, they gave themselves a chance of victory as Graham Napier and Jamie Porter took five wickets apiece in Sussex’s second innings.

Chasing 329 , Essex saw Alastair Cook hit an unbeaten century on the final afternoon, but they eventually came up short on 266-7.

Silverwood added: “The bowling partnership between ‘Napes’ and Jamie Porter in the last session of the third day epitomised what this team is all about now. They dug in, put their bodies on the line and did a terrific job for us.

“The encouraging thing to me was that if we keep doing that and keep pushing ourselves forward, then it will go a long way towards achieving what we want from the season.”

Five of the last six meetings between Essex and Northants have ended as draws while Essex are currently unbeaten in 12 home games against their opponents (seven wins, five draws).

Cook, who has recorded tons in both of Essex’s matches this term, has posted four first-class centuries in six matches against Northants, twice as many as against any other county.

Northants have had a rain-affected draw with Sussex, after Ben Duckett hit an unbeaten 282, but are missing regulars Rob Keogh, Steven Crook, Ollie Stone and Rob Newton through injury and will be without Monty Panesar, who was released by Essex at the end of last season.

Northants coach David Ripley said: “Monty’s not coming with us. One second team game isn’t enough for him to be considered for selection, but we will have Graeme White with us in case we think the wicket might turn.”

Essex: Ryan ten Doeschate; Alastair Cook; Nick Browne; Tom Westley; Ravi Bopara; Dan Lawrence; Jesse Ryder; James Foster; Graham Napier; Jamie Porter; Matt Dixon; David Masters; Aaron Beard.

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