Natwest T20 Blast: Essex set sights on Spitfires

PUBLISHED: 16:04 16 August 2017 | UPDATED: 16:04 16 August 2017

Varun Chopra in batting action for Essex against Kent Spitfires in the NatWest T20 Blast (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Varun Chopra in batting action for Essex against Kent Spitfires in the NatWest T20 Blast (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468

Chelmsford to host final group game against Kent

Essex Eagles host Kent Spitfires in their final South Group qualifying home match in this year’s NatWest T20 Blast at The Cloudfm County Ground on Thursday in a vital encounter for both sides.

The nine teams in the South Group are so well-matched that the Spitfires, who are currently at the foot of the table with two matches to play, still have a chance of making a top-four spot that would ensure a place in the quarter-finals.

Glamorgan are in pole position with 16 points, one point ahead of Hampshire with both having played 13 of their 14 games.

The Eagles are just outside the qualifying positions and are one of six teams locked on 12 points, although they do have two matches to play whilst four teams just have one match remaining.

And Essex have a good T20 record against the Spitfires at Chelmsford with four straight home successes. When Kent won the reverse fixture earlier this season it was only their second victory in 10 attempts against the Eagles who have won eight of those games.

Essex end their campaign with a trip to Hove to face Sussex Sharks on Friday and head coach Chris Silverwood, who will select his starting line-up from a 14-man squad, admits the match with Kent Spitfires is a must-win game for his side.

“There is just one point between the third and ninth-placed teams, it’s quite incredible really,” he said.

“The game is a massive one for both sides, the winner will put themselves in a good place to qualify for the quarter-finals.

“We got off to a poor start in the competition but we have fought our way into contention and I’m immensely proud of the guys, they keep fighting and battling away. There is a lot of character and fight in that dressing room.

“Jamie Porter, for example, is one that has shown he has the determination and character we want. He lost his place in the T20 Blast side but last week, got another chance against Gloucestershire and took it with both hands to return figures of 4-20.

“He is determined to make his way in T20 and showed just what he could do. I also thought Paul Walter and Mohammad Amir were quite outstanding with the ball whilst Varun Chopra batted superbly launching the innings in brilliant fashion.

“He scored 41 of our first 43 runs. We told our batsmen that one thing we needed to do was to win the first six overs and he ensured we did that.

“We’ve strung a few wins together now and given ourselves a great opportunity. We’ve played some good positive cricket at times along the way and there are a lot of positives we can take from the T20 season.

“We need to make sure that we play some good cricket against Kent on Thursday and Sussex on Friday and if we do that, it will give ourselves a great chance of qualifying.

Essex squad: Ryan ten Doeschate (27); James Foster (7); Mohammad Amir (5); Varun Chopra (6); Simon Harmer (11); Sam Cook (16); Paul Walter (22); Ravi Bopara (25); Dan Lawrence (28); Matt Dixon (30); Adam Wheater (31); Jamie Porter (44); Callum Taylor (67); Ashar Zaidi (99).

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