Essex captain Mark Pettini has said that preparations for the new season have been going very well, and that he is excited about his team's prospects for 2009. Speaking at the Ford County Ground for the official launch of Essex 2009 season, Pettini said:
“It has gone really well so far. We have just come back from Dubai, about a week ago. We had a good chance to practise our skills and play some cricket outdoors, we won some matches out there as well which was great. We start in about ten days so we are really looking forward to it."
While Essex have been a force in One Day cricket for the last few seasons, their form in four-day cricket has not been quite so impressive, Pettini said that Essex have identified this, and that gaining promotion to Division One of the LV County Championship is one of Essex’s main goals for 2009.
“Obviously we have been in Division Two for a long time now, and probably too long so, one of our main goals this season is to get promotion into that First Division. We have come pretty close the last couple of years we have finished third and fourth; we have signed a few more experienced batsmen this year and I think that should help us cross that line.”
Pettini believes that Essex will need to bat better in the first innings, in order to be more competitive in four-day cricket in 2009.
“I think that is where we fell short last year. I am hesitant to go towards the draw tactic in four-day cricket because I believe we play better when we play aggressive, attacking cricket. We can be promoted playing that style of cricket and I think it suits our players, our dressing room, and I think it is something that the supporters would like to see as well, but I think we also have to be aware that we probably were light on the runs last year particularly in the first innings."
Graham Napier took the cricketing world by storm with his blistering 152 for the Essex Eagles, in the Twenty20 Cup last year, and he has been rewarded with an IPL contract for the Mumbai Indians. Pettini confirmed that Napier will be away for three weeks and is excited about his team-mate's opportunity.
“He will be back for the Friends Provident game, the early game at the beginning of May, and for him it will be a great experience, the guys he can be around and learn off - he will be around people who really focus in on Twenty20 Cricket, so he should hopefully come back with some great ideas for us that will benefit us as well as himself as a player. I wish I had the chance to go and pick those guys brains so I am sure he is in a good position to do that. Also it is good for Essex as a club, to have a player going out in the IPL who is not an International player so a bit of recognition for the guy and gets Essex’s name out there a bit.”
Essex are the defending champions in the Friends Provident Trophy, and while Pettini is keen for Essex to repeat the feat, he is wary about prioritising competitions in which he feels Essex can have the most success.
“I will be honest with you - I don’t really put the competitions in priority order because you just don’t know, we might get off to a really good start, in the Friends Provident or we might get off to a good start in the Championship and if you prioritise before you start, it is kind of difficult. The guys are aware of how good it was to win that trophy last year and what a great day at Lord's that was and whenever you hold a trophy it is extra important the next year to try and defend it. Maybe in the middle of the season I will have the competitions more prioritised but for now we will just go in and see what happens."
© Cricket World 2009