Essex v Hampshire - Preview
Specsavers County Championship Division One
Friday, May 19-22 - At Chelmsford
Essex may have sealed a home tie in the semi-final of the Royal London Cup, but ahead of today’s Specsavers County Championship match against Hampshire, seamer Matt Quinn warned that they have yet to hit top form.
Essex will play Somerset or Nottinghamshire at Chelmsford four weeks today one step away from the 50-over final, but face three Championship matches between now and then in which to consolidate their unbeaten start to the season.
New Zealander Quinn is set to make his first Championship appearance since the middle of July after taking eight wickets in the six Royal London games he has played since recovering from a debilitating back injury.
He said: “It’s nice we’ve secured that home semi-final and that it’s in the bank and sorted. But it’s important for us not to rest on that now and continue the progress we’re made in the Championship. Our focus is now red-ball cricket.
“The Royal London campaign has got the confidence flowing, but we know we haven’t played or perfect game yet, not even at one-day level. We’re had 10-15-over patches where we really let things go or we’ve had a few mistakes.
“In the Championship, we got lucky at Middlesex in our last game with the rain and the light. We definitely dodged a bullet there. But beating the likes of Surrey and Somerset in the white-ball game, and beating them quite convincingly, is going to put us in good stead for the rest of the season.”
Essex have lost only one game all season, and that by just one run at Glamorgan. Quinn said: We’re definitely thinking as a squad we’ve got every chance to win all three formats this year.
“But we know we’ve got to take one game at a time, and every game is a must-win. That’s a good mental space to be in. We’re flying at the moment.”
Alastair Cook has the led the way with more than 500 runs in white-ball cricket, with another century and a fifty in the Championship. His runs have been crucial, but others have lent their support with key contributions with bat and ball.
“We haven’t had just one guy who’s done everything,” said Quinn. “Obviously Cookie has batted extraordinarily well throughout the campaign, but we’ve never had two or three guys we’ve had to rely on.
“Paul Walter came in and did really well in the few games he played, and Neil Wagner has been really consistent. Then you’ve had the likes of Westley and Chopra who’ve stepped up at different times to help the side.
“I wouldn’t say everyone is in great touch or fantastic form, but everyone is doing enough to chip away and put in a good score or take wickets for the side, and that’s important.”
Quinn’s comeback has been carefully managed by Essex, and he was rested for Wednesday’s win at Kent, so he was fresh and raring to go against Hampshire. He claimed 22 Championship wickets in four appearances restricted by injury last season, including 11 in his final match against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham.
“Obviously last year we were in Division Two, so I’m sure wickets will be harder to come by this season, and batsmen tougher to get out,” he said.
“I’m very happy with where my body’s at and how things have been going so far. I’m really looking forward to getting back to some red-ball cricket.”