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Cricket: No panic yet says Essex coach McGrath

PUBLISHED: 09:17 09 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:17 09 April 2019

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath during day one of the first class match at Fenner's, Cambridge.

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath during day one of the first class match at Fenner's, Cambridge.

PA Wire/PA Images

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath refused to panic after an innings defeat at Hampshire in the first match of the Specsavers County Championship season.

Having seen the home side pile up 525-8 declared at the Ageas Bowl, led by a fine 169 from Sam Northeast, the 2017 champions were dismissed for 164 in their first innings.

Sir Alastair Cook top scored with 50, as Ravi Bopara (37 not out) and Dan Lawrence (31) also made starts, but wicketkeeper Adam Wheater was unable to bat after suffering a hand injury on the first day.

And, after being asked to follow on, Essex were bowled out for 274 second time around despite a battling century from Ravi Bopara.

The former England all-rounder struck 12 fours in his 107 and put on 111 for the sixth wicket with Simon Harmer, who hit nine fours in his 62.

But Kyle Abbott (5-77) shone with the ball for Hampshire, after Fidel Edwards (5-51) had done most of the damage in the first innings.

McGrath said: “It was a really good batting surface as proved today (Monday), but unless you get first innings runs then you are struggling.

“We know we need to get scores on the board and when you get bowled out for 160-odd you are always going to be up against it.

“We have bowled much better than that but you have to give credit to Hampshire for getting through the tough start and then they cashed in after lunch.

“All-round we were way off it with both bat and ball. If we had got away with a draw then we would have been lucky.

“It is only the first game so there won’t be any panic stations. With the team we have we need to dust ourselves down for the Oval on Thursday.”

Essex face a daunting trip to face defending champions Surrey, but managed to beat them by one-wicket in the last round of matches last year.

Captain Ryan ten Doeschate played the vital innings in the successful run chase, as Essex ended Surrey’s hopes of an unbeaten record.

He said: “The fact they were unbeaten, we wanted to beat them. To get over the line in that game stands us in good stead.”

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