Essex play the penultimate home match of the Specsavers County Championship season when they entertain Surrey at The Cloudfm County Ground starting on Tuesday at 10:30am.

Essex Head Coach Anthony McGrath has named a 13-man squad for the fixture, which promises to be an enthralling clash between last year’s Champions Essex and opponents that currently lead the chase for the 2018 title.

With four matches left to play, Surrey have 196 points, 32 more than closest pursuers Somerset. Victory over Hampshire last week for Essex saw them move into third place in the Division One table with 119 points.

That latest success at Chelmsford by an innings and 52 runs owed much to off-spinner Simon Harmer, who had match figures of 6 for 116, and quickie Peter Siddle who took 7 wickets in the match at a personal cost of 70 runs.

Harmer, who has now taken 43 wickets in his 9 matches in the competition this season at an average of 23.72, admits that the latest win and the county’s fourth of the summer in red-ball cricket owed everything to a magnificent all-round effort by the team.

“It took a massive effort from the group to play the cricket that we wanted to play, to bat first and look to bat big and then bowl them out twice,” he said.

“It was the only way we were going to win the game. It was a tremendous team performance and it was good to see the batting unit putting up the runs so that the bowlers could take care of the rest.

While Harmer worked his magic, Australian fast bowler Peter Siddle was also in scintillating form with his third 5-for of the campaign and taking his tally of Championship victims to 34 in only 6 matches this year.

However, the match with Surrey will mark the end of Siddle’s tenure with Essex this year and Harmer paid him this tribute, saying: “He has been a special addition this season and he showed his class again (against Hampshire). I don’t think the wicket deteriorated or played as we thought it would. It was quite dead, and it was hard work on the last day but with Sidds always coming back and getting vital breakthroughs, it made our job a helluva lot easier.”

Although he accepts that Surrey are probably too far ahead for Essex to have a chance of retaining their crown, Siddle believes that Essex has an opportunity to apply some pressure on their opponents.

“We’ve got two matches against them on this back half of the season and it’s a good chance for us to finish strong and make a point,” he stated.

“If they are going to be the eventual winners, it would be a nice way to finish our season by putting in some good contests against them and setting us up nicely going into next year.

“It’s always hard to defend a title but it’s very important for us to finish the year strongly and move on to next summer.

Anthony McGrath has included both Michael Pepper and Adam Wheater in the squad for the Surrey fixture after Wheater came off in the last match against Hampshire and sat out the final day.

Essex squad to face Surrey:

Ryan ten Doeschate (27) (Captain)
Ravi Bopara (25)
Nick Browne (10)
Varun Chopra (6)
Sam Cook (16)
Simon Harmer (11)
Dan Lawrence (28)
Michael Pepper (19) (Wicket-keeper)
Jamie Porter (44)
Matt Quinn (94)
Peter Siddle (64)
Tom Westley (21)
Adam Wheater (31) (Wicket-keeper)

Tickets for the match are available in advance online, priced £13 Adults, £10 Young Adults and £5 Juniors. Supporters can purchase on the gates for the day of the game, with Adult tickets priced at £15. > Buy Tickets