Anthony McGrath: Six of the Best


On 20 November 2017, Anthony McGrath was appointed Head Coach of Essex, taking over the reins from his former boss, and fellow Yorkshireman, Chris Silverwood.

In the ensuing years, the Eagles have won three trophies, including a historic County Championship-Vitality Blast double in 2019.

Now, on the sixth anniversary of Mags’ appointment, this is a look back at an over of his most memorable moments at the Essex helm.

1) County Champions Again, 2019

Having already lifted the Championship trophy as part of Silverwood’s staff in 2017, the pupil became the master two years later as McGrath led Essex to another title.

Simon Harmer did what he does best to lead the way in the wicket-taking charts with 83, while Alastair Cook hit 913 runs as the Eagles finished 11 points clear of Somerset at the top of the tree.

Just 48 hours after also winning the Vitality Blast, Essex headed to Taunton for a crucial showdown that would decide the destination of the trophy, and they dug in for a crucial draw to bring it back to Chelmsford.

2) Record Breakers, 2022

On a glorious evening in July last year, the Eagles put Glamorgan to the sword in racking up their highest-ever T20 score, which was at the time, also the fourth-highest ever seen in the domestic English competition.

A total of 43 boundaries were hit in the Essex innings, 19 of which were sixes, as the Welsh outfit wilted, with four of their five bowlers going at more than ten per over and every home batter striking at a rate of at least 160.

In response, captain Sam Northeast put up a valiant fight with an unbeaten 97 from 56 balls, but no one was able to match the Eagles’ fireworks as the visitors finished well short on 185-7 to give Essex victory by 69 runs.

3) Vitality Blast Triumph, 2019

Three years before that, McGrath masterminded the first part of the famed double as his side beat Worcestershire in the 2019 Vitality Blast final to be crowned short-format kings of England for the first time.

Having seen off Finals Day debutants Derbyshire Falcons in the semi-final by 34 runs, with Cameron Delport hitting 55 and Simon Harmer snaring 4/19, a date with destiny was set for the evening.

The Rapids, who were defending champions, set a target of 145/9, which Essex overhauled in thrilling fashion as Harmer hit the winning four off the very last ball of the chase, to spark manic celebrations in Birmingham.

4) Last-Ball Six, 2023

Following that win, it would be another four years until the Eagles again qualified for the T20 knockout stages, but this year, they did just that in circumstances of barely-believable drama.

Chasing 197 and with three needed off one ball, Feroze Khushi hit Sean Abbott towards Chris Jordan, and though he took a catch, he was unable to stop, and an attempted throw to Jamie Overton only palmed it over the rope.

The most crucial two points were in the bag, and with Kent then losing to Somerset in the day’s evening clash, the Eagles’ progress to the last eight, having gone right down to the wire, was secured.


5) Lifting The Bob Willis Trophy, 2020

In the strangest of years, the most unusual of competitions was born, as the severely-shortened 2020 season saw the creation of the Bob Willis Trophy.

Although Essex were officially unable to defend their 2019 Championship title, they again saw off Somerset, this time in the final at Lord’s, to retain their status as the best red-ball side in the country.

The rain-affected match did end in a draw, but by virtue of having scored more first-innings runs – 337 to Somerset’s 301 – it was McGrath’s Eagles that lifted another trophy.

6) Spoiling The Champions’ Party, 2018

When Essex headed to the Oval on the last game of the 2018 season, Surrey were champions-elect and, up to that point, unbeaten all season.

However, Essex ensured their achievement from the previous year of going through the entire year without defeat would remain unmatched, as Tom Westley’s first-innings 134 set up a thrilling one-wicket win.

Chasing a target of, funnily enough, 134 in the fourth innings after a topsy-turvy four days, Ryan ten Doeschate’s counter-attacking unbeaten 53 saw Essex sneak over the line and put a dent in the Brown Caps’ celebrations.