December 11 2013 Latest news:
James Long, London24’s Essex blogger
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Paul Grayson spoke out recently claiming that Essex still have an outside chance of claiming promotion this year in the County Championship, despite residing second from bottom of Division Two at the moment.
Grayson cites the team’s confidence and the fact that without the constant rain interruptions Essex would be in a much better position.
With five County Championship games left and with, all fingers/toes/anything crossed, the weather looking good, there is a genuine possibility.
The team is starting to maintain some stability now, especially in the terms of selection. On a personal note, I am really pleased to see Westley and Mickleburgh opening against Kent this week after both scoring fantastic 100s opening up against Leicestershire.
If promotion evades us this year then thoughts should immediately turn to next season. Essex’s limited-overs form is really not an issue. We are a very strong team who have a bit of a blip this year but again the CB40 form is starting to look strong recently.
Essex’s main priority should be the County Championship and getting back into Division One. With this in mind I have drafted up an 11 who I think should form the basis of the team next season;
That line-up bats deep and, similar to the approach adopted by the England Test team, there are four bowlers used with players who can combine to act as a ‘fifth bowler’.
I have left the number nine slot as ‘TBA’ for a reason; the one thing Essex needs to address over the winter is signing a quality spinner.
Harbhajan Singh has settled in nicely and if Essex can sign him up for all of next season too that will be fantastic.
If not they should start looking now to signing that international spinner. One issue might affect that team and that is the IPL. We lost both Shah and Tendo to the tournament this year and it did cause a big dent in the team. Shah performed well in India so is likely to play against next year.
If Shah does leave then Greg Smith should be added to the team, batting around number five and Ravi and Wheater moving up a spot.
Tendo also was signed up for the IPL this year but, despite his team The Kolkata Knight Riders reaching the final, he did not play in a single game.
There is a chance Tendo might reconsider an offer this year or might actually not receive an offer.
My starting 11 for next year balances youth and experience and is a team that should gain promotion in the 2013 campaign. Although, perhaps looking that far ahead is unnecessary, if Grayson’s right we could already be in Division One for the start of next season.