Cricket: Essex return to red-ball action and title bid
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Essex return to red-ball cricket as they travel to Canterbury to face Kent in the Specsavers County Championship, starting on Sunday.
Peter Siddle will be missing from the side, having been called up by Australia for the Ashes series, but Mohammad Amir has been drafted in for what will be the final red-ball match of his career.
The 27-year-old has been playing T20 cricket with the Eagles and was a member of the successful 2017 Championship-winning side, when his brief period with the club saw him take 14 wickets in just three matches, all of which ended with Essex victories.
Essex head coach Anthony McGrath is delighted to have Amir for the game and said: "To have him for this match is obviously outstanding and it's a great boost for everyone."
Essex lead the County Championship by four points and following this match, will finish their Vitality Blast campaign before the final three Championship matches.
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On the schedule, McGrath said: "The schedule is what it is. I think every coach will probably tell you that it is better to have the games in blocks but the way it has panned out means we have one game in the middle of our T20 campaign.
"Every team has got it so it's the same for all and you just have to deal with it and get on with it.
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"Of course, it means there is little time to get much preparation in for the return to red-ball cricket, but we'll be doing that on Saturday ahead of the Kent game. T20 cricket and Championship cricket are polar opposites but we have to focus our minds on the return to the longer form of the game.
"We worked so hard to get to the top of the league and with four games left, we have to mentally switch on right from the start of the match with Kent. Our players have done so well in the eight-game block we had before the start of the T20 and hopefully, we can replicate those levels of performance when we play on Sunday."
Essex also announced that Amir has extended his contract with the club, signing up for the remainder of the Vitality Blast group stages to be available to face Sussex Sharks, Hampshire, Surrey and Kent Spitfires.
McGrath is delighted that Amir has prolonged his stay, adding: "We are really pleased that Mohammad will be playing red-ball cricket for us, especially after retiring from Test cricket with Pakistan in the past month.
"Mohammad agreed to play in this County Championship fixture before announcing his retirement from Test cricket, so we are really grateful that he has followed through on his promise given the circumstances.
"He will give us the extra dimension as a left-armer in our bowling unit and is a great replacement for Peter Siddle, who has now gone to play for Australia in the Ashes."
Essex's overseas signings are in partnership with Seven Investment Management, the Eagles' Vitality Blast shirt sponsor.
Essex Eagles squad: Ryan ten Doeschate, Mohammad Amir, Aaron Beard, Ravi Bopara, Nick Browne, Alastair Cook, Sam Cook, Simon Harmer, Dan Lawrence, Rishi Patel, Jamie Porter, Tom Westley, Adam Wheater.