Essex entertain Hampshire in a Specsavers County Championship match at The Cloudfm County Ground starting on Wednesday and the home side will be seeking their fourth win in the competition.

Head coach Anthony McGrath is eager for his side to post higher first innings totals in their remaining matches, and said: “The lack of runs in our first innings’ has made things difficult for us this season.

“If we had scored more runs in the first innings against Somerset in our last match, instead of losing by 45 runs, the outcome could have been very different. But you are not going to win many games posting less than 200 on your first innings.

“Lack of runs on the board in those first innings has been a problem for us for much of this season and has cost us.”

Essex has 95 points, 2 more than Hampshire who are currently fifth in the table, with both teams having played 9 matches.

Before the start of the current round of matches, the 2 relegation positions are occupied by Worcestershire, who have 83 points from 9 matches, and Lancashire, who are bottom of the division with 77 points having played 10 matches.

At this stage last year, Essex were riding high on their way to the title, an achievement that McGrath knew would be difficult to replicate.

“We knew we would be in for a rough ride on occasions this year and that other counties would come harder at us. Make no mistake, there are some very good teams in Division One.

“Now we’ve got to take the form we showed with the bat in our second innings against Somerset throughout our remaining matches starting with Hampshire.

“With only 8 teams in Division One and 2 of them getting relegated at the end of the season, the league table can change very quickly but that’s Division One cricket, it makes it competitive and exciting.

“We know that with the attack that we’ve got, if we can post a first innings score of near 350 plus, then we are not going to lose many games.”

Essex squad to face Hampshire:

Ryan ten Doeschate (27) (Captain)
Ravi Bopara (25)
Nick Browne (10)
Varun Chopra (6)
Sam Cook (16)
Simon Harmer (11)
Dan Lawrence (28)
Jamie Porter (44)
Matt Quinn (94)
Peter Siddle (64)
Tom Westley (21)
Adam Wheater (31) (Wicket-keeper)