ESSEX coach Paul Grayson wants his players to take the next step and win this year’s One-Day Cup.
The Eagles find themselves in their second quarter-final of the season today and again their opponents will be Warwickshire.
The Birmingham-based side come into the game fresh from winning the T20 Blast at the weekend - having knocked Essex out en route to finals day - and Grayson wants his players to experience the same joys of success that Warwickshire did at Edgbaston.
“We have got to a lot of quarter-finals and semi-finals in the last few years and we want to move forward now and put a trophy in the cabinet,” said Grayson.
“We are two games away from a Lord’s final now and that is one of the highlights of anyone’s career and we want to get there.”
The first hurdle standing in the way of a dream final at the home of cricket is Warwickshire who arrive at Chelmsford today looking to replicate their win in the T2O Blast.
“I suppose it is a bit of an incentive for a few of the lads,” said Grayson. “It’s funny actually because we have not played Warwickshire for a long time in one-day cricket and all of a sudden we will have played them twice in two quarter finals.
“From my point of view, we have responded brilliantly to losing to them in the T20.
“There’s no doubt as a group we were hurting, but the players have been brilliant ever since. They have knuckled down, not felt sorry for themselves and won games of cricket.”
Essex’s form since their T20 exit has indeed been impressive.
They have gone unbeaten in the six One-Day Cup games since the defeat, winning four with the other two washed out by the rain.
“I’m pleased with how we are playing,” said Grayson. “We’ve won 10 Twenty20 games this season, five One-Day Cup games and four championship games. So that’s 19 games we’ve won this season and I think there are only a couple of sides who have won more games than us. But we want to move forward now.”
Grayson is sweating on the fitness of three of his big stars for today’s game.
Skipper Ryan ten Doeschate, all-rounder Graham Napier and Kiwi star Jesse Ryder all missed their final group game at Northamptonshire last Thursday and are doubts to face Warwickshire.
“Hopefully they will be fit,” said Grayson. “We will leave it as late as possible and for at least two of them that will mean a final check today.
“If they are fit they will definitely play though, they are big players for us.
“But whoever plays, there will be two good teams out there today and it is sure to be a good game.”
l Today’s match at Chelmsford starts at 2pm. For more information, visit the website www.essexcricket.org.uk
WARWICKSHIRE - IN FOCUS
WARWICKSHIRE couldn’t come into today’s game any more confident.
They lifted the T20 Blast trophy on their home turf at Edgbaston on Saturday, beating Lancashire in the final after beating Surrey in the semi-final.
They will be without two of the stars of that T20 side today, however, as Ian Bell and Chris Woakes both played for England against India yesterday.
Neither Bell nor Woakes have played any part in Warwickshire’s One-Day cup campaign so far, however.
Skipper Varun Chopra led his side to four wins in the group stages and it is his partnership with Ireland international Will Porterfield at the top of the order that Essex will want to break quickly.
Chopra – who averages 80.25 in the One-Day Cup this season – was the star performer when the sides last met in the T20 Blast quarter-final at Chelmsford, hitting 86 not out from 87 balls as the Essex bowlers failed to remove him.
New Zealander Jeetan Patel is the dangerman with the ball.
The off-spiner has taken 16 wickets in the competition this season at an average of 18.06.