MATCH PREVIEW | Lancashire v Essex


Having secured a home tie in the quarter-finals of the Royal London Cup by beating Kent Spitfires emphatically on Wednesday, Essex now turn their attentions to the red ball when they travel to Old Trafford to face Lancashire.

The County Championship clash starts on Saturday and the visitors are boosted by the inclusion of England opener Alastair Cook who is named in a 13-man squad for the trip north.

Having completed a two-match series with Pakistan, England do not face another Test match until 1 August and Cook has been made available to play for his county in all formats in the interim period.

“We are always delighted when we have Cookie around, everyone knows the quality of the guy and what he brings to the team both on and off the field with his ability and experience,” Essex Head Coach Anthony McGrath enthused.

“He loves playing for Essex and it’s great that he’s back with us.”

The return of the England left-hander is timely as regular Championship opener Nick Browne is still sidelined with a broken finger.

McGrath does not believe the switch from the limited overs to four-day format should affect his side.

“Our batsmen have been in really good form in the One-Day Cup and we are hoping that they can transfer that into the red ball stuff,” he said. “There’s no reason why not, I know the balls do behave differently but we are looking for the momentum we’ve got with the bat to continue into the four-day game.

“We are expecting another tough encounter, Lancashire are a good side but when we do realise our full potential, we’ll prove ourselves a very good team as we did last season.

“We have only collected three batting points this season and although I appreciate it was tough early on, that was the same for all teams. I have to say that in Championship cricket, we haven’t batted as well as we can and it would be good to rack up some big first innings scores and get the bonus points.

“I think that with our bowling attack, providing we can get the scores on the board of say of 400 or 450, then we are always going to have a chance of winning matches with the bowlers we have.

“Overall, I’m reasonably satisfied with our Championship form. As I say, we could have done with a few more batting points and that would have got us the table a little bit more but it’s very tight up there.”

“Given that we’ve had one game rained-off, we’ve had two wins out of the four we played,” McGrath continued. “We’ve not been at our best yet but still managed to pick up a couple of victories. We’ve now got three red ball matches before the end of this month and we are hoping to get plenty of points on the board.”

One of those two wins this season came in the corresponding fixture between the two teams at The Cloudfm County Ground in April when Essex won an absorbing contest by 31 runs.

Last year’s runaway Champions start the match in fourth place, 14 points adrift of early pace-setters Nottinghamshire, while Lancashire are two places and five points behind Anthony McGrath’s side.

27 Ryan ten Doeschate (C)
31 Adam Wheater (WK)
25 Ravi Bopara
6 Varun Chopra
1 Matt Coles
26 Alastair Cook
16 Sam Cook
11 Simon Harmer
28 Dan Lawrence
19 Michael Pepper
44 Jamie Porter
13 Neil Wagner
21 Tom Westley