Essex set to test the touring Sri Lankans

Halstead Gazette: Fit again – Reece Topley is in line to face Sri Lanka today Fit again – Reece Topley is in line to face Sri Lanka today

ESSEX coach Paul Grayson says his side are looking forward to taking on the international stars of Sri Lanka today.

Grayson admits his team are in for a tough test when they host the tourists in a day/night game in Chelmsford.

But the Essex coach will welcome back England stars Ravi Bopara and Alastair Cook – who will both be expecting to play in the international series against the Sri Lankans later this summer – as well as young star bowler Reece Topley.

And Grayson said the game will offer a great warm-up ahead of his side’s Twenty20 campaign which starts at Middlesex on Saturday.

Grayson said: “They have some seriously good cricketers in their squad but we are looking forward to the game because it will offer us some excellent cricket ahead of the start of our Twenty20 campaign.

“So this game has come at a good time.

“OK it’s 50-over white ball cricket but for us, it’s about having the opportunity to practice our one-day skills.

“It’s going to be a good challenge for us and I know all the lads are looking forward to it.”

The Sri Lanka team are in Chelmsford to face Essex in what promises to be a gripping 50-over per side match starting at 2pm.

The tourists, who are set to meet England in two Test matches, five ODI’s and a Twenty20 international this summer, bring with them a highly-talented squad who only last month, lifted the World Twenty20 title.

They have also proved themselves a competitive side in other international formats of the game since 1982 when they became a Test nation for the first time.

Essex have selected their strongest available side – although injures are still taking toll of some members of the pace attack.

David Masters and Graham Napier are making good recovery and could be in contention for a place in Saturday’s opening T20 Blast match at Lord’s, although Tymal Mills is a longer-term absentee.

His side strain is likely to keep him on the sidelines for a further three weeks.

However, Topley has recovered from a stress fracture in his back and will make his first appearance of the season while Matt Salisbury is given a first team debut.

The 20-year-old right arm fast bowler made his first-class debut for Cambridge MCCU against Essex two years ago and became a regular member of the county’s second eleven in 2013 when he topped their list of wicket-takers in the championship.

As well as current England players Cook and Bopara, spinner Monty Panesar will be looking for the opportunity to boost his claims for a return to the England side.

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