Match Previews: Essex v Kent Spitfires & Hampshire Hawks

Essex v Kent Spitfires | Hampshire Hawks v Essex
Vitality Blast
The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford | Ageas Bowl, Southampton
Thursday 22 June, 7:00pm | Friday 23 June, 7:00pm

Essex go into back-to-back fixtures against Kent Spitfires and Hampshire Hawks knowing that victories would go a long way to securing a spot in the Vitality Blast quarter finals.

After a highly promising campaign, the Eagles sit clear in third place in the South Group on 14 points, four points clear of Kent and Glamorgan who are both vying for a spot in the top four.

Two tough fixtures await, with the Spitfires on a four-game winning streak and the Hawks enjoying another good season in the Vitality Blast.

The Eagles have benefitted from incredible home support again this year with Thursday’s fixture against Kent and the final home group stage match against Middlesex both sold out.


Head Coach Anthony McGrath has named a 14-player squad that will face both Kent Spitfires and Hampshire Hawks.

Sam Cook is the player to drop out of the squad as his workload is managed during a busy schedule.


The Opposition: Kent

Squad: Sam Billings (C), Wes Agar, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Alex Blake, Jordan Cox, Joe Denly, Joey Evison, Michael Hogan, Jack Leaning, George Linde, Tawanda Muyeye, Matt Quinn, Grant Stewart

Captain: Sam Billings
Overseas players: Wes Agar (Australia), George Linde (South Africa)
Finals Day appearances: 4 (2007, 2008, 2009,2021)
Titles: 2 (2007, 2021)
2022 finish: Group Stage
2023 leading run-scorer: Daniel Bell-Drummond (407)
2023 leading wicket-taker: Michael Hogan (19)

Last Time Out:

Essex took the bragging rights in the first Battle of the Bridge in Canterbury two weeks ago, as Sam Cook ripped through the Spitfires’ top order with a fifth-over hat trick on his way to eye-catching figures of 4-18.

Cook’s efforts, which included his removals of England internationals Joe Denly and Sam Billings, helped restrict Kent to 150/8, before Matt Critchley hit 63 off just 46 balls to steer the Eagles home with ten balls to spare.

The last meeting between the sides at Chelmsford also saw Essex complete a successful chase with Cook again starring, this time taking 2-14 as Kent limped to 130/9.

In marching to their target, the Eagles barely broke a sweat as Michael Pepper struck a 29-ball half-century and Paul Walter contributed 33 off 16 to win with 4.3 overs remaining.

The Opposition: Hampshire

Squad: James Vince (C), Toby Albert, Mason Crane, Scott Currie, Liam Dawson, Aneurin Donald, Nathan Ellis, James Fuller, Benny Howell, Ben McDermott, John Turner, Joe Weatherley, Ross Whiteley, Chris Wood

Captain: James Vince
Overseas players: Nathan Ellis (Australia), Ben McDermott (Australia)
Finals Day appearances: 9 (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2021, 2022)
Titles: 3 (2010, 2012, 2022)
2022 finish: Champions
2023 leading run-scorer: James Vince (491)
2023 leading wicket-taker: Nathan Ellis (14)

Last Time Out:

Shane Snater will be hoping Friday night’s visit to the Ageas Bowl will be as good to him as his most recent trip there last August, when he hit a half-century and took three wickets in the Royal London One-Day Cup.

If he can pull off a similar all-round showing on the south coast, it would go a long way to helping Essex avenge their defeat to the Hawks the last time the sides met in a T20 in Southampton.

In that encounter, Ben Allison returned career best T20 figures of 3-33, including taking the prize wicket of Ben McDermott with his first ball, but the Eagles fell short of chasing down the hosts’ 155/6.

Defending champions Hampshire also won at Chelmsford three weeks ago, but if good omens are a thing, the Eagles can take heart from the fact that last season, the sides won one game each against one another.

Essex convincingly saw off the Hawks by eight wickets, as Sam Cook and Simon Harmer both took 2-16 to restrict the visitors to 150/6, before Michael Pepper blasted a 42-ball 75 to win the match with six full overs to spare.

South Group Table:


Squad Fitness Update:

Essex Cricket Lead Physiotherapist Vishal Kanji caught up with Essex Cricket TV to discuss his move to Essex and the challenges of keeping a fit and match ready squad during a packed schedule.


Tickets are still available for Sunday’s LV= Insurance County Championship fixture against Warwickshire. After a win against Somerset last time out, Essex will look to make it two wins in a row with the aim of chasing table toppers Surrey.


How To Watch:

Both matches will be available to watch via the Essex Cricket Matchzone with Friday’s stream being provided by our hosts, Hampshire. On Thursday, join Simon Ward for coverage of Essex’s match against Kent, which will also be available to watch on Essex Cricket TV’s YouTube channel.

Clips, statistics and an interactive scorecard will still be available for both games with full match coverage on the Club’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.