First-class start for Essex

PUBLISHED: 17:30 30 March 2016

Essex's Ravi Bopara (pic: Nigel French/PA)

Essex's Ravi Bopara (pic: Nigel French/PA)

PA/Press Association Images

County ready to face Cambridge students

Essex begin the new first-class season with a three-day friendly at Fenner’s against Cambridge MCCU tomorrow (Thursday).

Head coach Chris Silverwood has named a strong 12-man squad for the fixture, including Ravi Bopara, James Foster, Nick Browne, Dan Lawrence and Jamie Porter.

And he admits that places are still up for grabs ahead of the opening Specsavers County Championship fixture against Gloucestershire at Chelmsford on April 10.

“We are getting ever closer to the start of the season and we are looking at all the boys getting into the right sort of form in order for us to launch our season in a positive manner,” he said.

“This game with Cambridge and the friendly with Middlesex next week will be a great opportunity for players to show why they should be playing ahead of others in that match with Gloucestershire.

“We have a strong squad challenging for the 11 places, but that’s what any coach wants, serious competition.

“In my mind I have an idea of the names that will figure on that team sheet, but there are certainly a couple of places still up for grabs and there is still time for players to impress and win a place in that Gloucestershire match.”

New Zealander and overseas player Jesse Ryder arrived back in the country on Tuesday but misses out on tomorrow’s fixture

“I’ve allowed him to rest after his lengthy flight, but he’ll be working hard in the nets and will be in the squad for the Middlesex game next week,” added Silverwood.

Ryan ten Doeschate, who was appointed as club captain during the winter, leads Essex for the first time in a first-class fixture.

Silverwood has no doubts the 35-year-old all-rounder can make a success of the position and lead the side to promotion.

“I believe he has the skills and determination to drive us forward. He has a cool head, a good brain and tactically he’s very good,” he added.

“Those are the qualities we’ll be needing, not only to get out of Division Two, but in the longer term, to be competing in the top division and ultimately winning Division One.

“In my opinion, he has the skills to achieve that.”

Essex: Ryan ten Doeschate, James Foster, Jaik Mickleburgh, Nick Browne, Tom Westley, Ravi Bopara, Dan Lawrence, Graham Napier, Matt Dixon, Jamie Porter, Callum Taylor, Ashar Zaidi.

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