PREVIEW | Cambridge MCCU v Essex


Essex make the short trip to Fenner’s on Saturday where they commence a three-day first-class fixture against Cambridge MCCU.

It is the last opportunity for the 2017 County Champions to engage in some competitive action ahead of the start of the new Specsavers County Championship campaign which commences next Friday.

Since last season, Chris Silverwood has left the club to take up an appointment as bowling coach with England and that has allowed his assistant Anthony McGrath to step up into the role as Essex Head Coach.

Speaking ahead of the visit to Cambridge, the former England and Yorkshire player acknowledged that the fixture is eagerly anticipated.

“We are all looking forward to the match with Cambridge MCCU, it is an important part of our preparation for the start of the County Championship campaign,” he said.

“It will be a good indicator of where we are at in those preparations, everyone is keen to play. Hopefully the game will afford a few people the opportunity to get a good run out with the bat and the ball towards that opening Championship match of the season.”

Essex were beaten by an innings and 34 runs in their match with MCC in Barbados last week but McGrath remains unfazed by that outcome.

“Yes, we were disappointed with the result of the match, we don’t like to lose any game but we had a few injury problems out there,” he admitted. “There’s nothing too serious but we won’t take a chance on anyone’s fitness at this time of the year, we’ll err on the side of caution if we have to.

There’s a lot of cricket ahead of us, but hopefully we’ll have a fully fit squad by the time we go to Emerald Headingley.

“There were a number of positives to take from the trip to Barbados, it afforded some of the younger players like Aron Nijjar, Callum Taylor and Aaron Beard the opportunity to play, whilst Jack Plom and Feroze Khushi came into the squad and really impressed and were unlucky not to play in the MCC game.

“So there were a lot of positives and we talked as a squad about it being another step towards our preparation for the Yorkshire game.

“If we are going to be competitive in the three formats, which we want to be, then we have to use and utilise our whole squad and that’s the whole point of a pre-season tour. If we are going to be successful, this year, it will be because of our strength in depth.”

Anthony McGrath has named a 12-man squad for the trip to Fenner’s, with Varun Chopra and Sam Cook missing out with injuries.

Essex squad v Cambridge MCCU
Ryan ten Doeschate (27) Captain
James Foster (7) Wicket-keeper
Aaron Beard (14)
Ravi Bopara (25)
Nick Browne (10)
Simon Harmer (11)
Dan Lawrence (28)
Jack Plom (77)
Jamie Porter (44)
Paul Walter (22)
Tom Westley (21)
Adam Wheater (31)