Essex at home to Yorkshire in County Championship Division 1 - Preview
Essex meet Yorkshire in the Specsavers County Championship at The Cloudfm County Ground and England opener Alastair Cook is set to make his first home appearance of the season.
Former England Test captain Cook is named in a 13-man squad against opponents Yorkshire who are able to include fellow England stars Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow.
Cook played for Essex in the drawn match with Hampshire earlier this week and has been made available by the ECB to play against Yorkshire and in the next match with Worcestershire ahead of the forthcoming Test series with Pakistan.
Commenting on the opener’s innings of 84 at The Ageas Bowl, Essex Head Coach Anthony McGrath said: “Alastair continued where he left off for us last year and looked as if he’d never been away. Obviously we love having him around and he’s a terrific presence both on and off the field.”
Predictions from the weathermen promises four days of sunshine for Chelmsford and the forecast was warmly received by McGrath.
“Let’s hope they are right, we could certainly do with some decent weather,” he said. “We’ve had to sit around for quite a few days this season and that has prevented the players from getting any rhythm to their game.”
The equivalent of more than two days were lost to a combination of rain and bad light during the County’s match with Hampshire at The Ageas Bowl earlier this week although Essex did manage to earn 10 points from the drawn game, a return that pleased McGrath.
“The weather forecast was for a total washout for the final day of the Hampshire game but we got a full day’s play in so it was good that our bowlers and batsmen were able to spend time in the middle,” he acknowledged.
“But it was bitterly cold, some of our players wore beanie hats, Peter Siddle bowled in his, and I think ‘Cookie’ actually had seven layers on at one stage. Despite the weather, there were a good few positives to take from the game.
“Peter Siddle put in a brilliant effort with the ball, he passed the bat so many times and Sam Cook benefitted from his first match of the season. He’s been unlucky with injuries pre-season and so it was good for him to shake off any rustiness and he’ll be better for that.
“Alastair and Ravi Bopara played superbly and it was nice to see Ravi get a decent score; he’s looked impressive pre-season but that innings against Hampshire was good for him and his confidence.
“Once again, James Foster made a valuable contribution, at one stage I thought we might not get 250 but he came in and helped us to get to 300 and that third batting point.
“So overall, apart from the weather, I’m satisfied with the way things panned out.”
Yorkshire arrive at Chelmsford having lost to Somerset by 118 runs earlier this week but McGrath is expecting a strong reaction from his former County.
“They will be desperate to put things right and the inclusion of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow will lift their dressing room for sure. We are expecting a tough battle but we are ready for the challenge.”
Essex, who had already won the Championship title when they met Yorkshire at Chelmsford in the final match of last season, celebrated their achievement in style completing victory inside three days.
The two teams were scheduled to meet in the opening Championship fixture this year but the weather dictated that not a ball would be bowled.
Essex begin the match in fourth place with 34 points from their three matches, five ahead of Yorkshire and 11 behind early pace-setters Nottinghamshire.
Ryan ten Doeschate (27) Captain
James Foster (7) Wicket-keeper
Aaron Beard (14)
Ravi Bopara (25)
Nick Browne (10)
Varun Chopra (6)
Alastair Cook (26)
Sam Cook (16)
Simon Harmer (11)
Dan Lawrence (28)
Jamie Porter (44)
Peter Siddle (64)
Tom Westley (21)