Essex boosted by the return of key players

Echo: Ryan ten Doeschate PIC: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTOS Ryan ten Doeschate PIC: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTOS

ESSEX coach Paul Grayson says he expects to find out a lot more about his side in the next three weeks.

Grayson was speaking the morning after his side’s frustrating draw against Glamorgan but says the return of key players, including David Masters, Graham Napier and Ryan ten Doeschate will give his side a significant boost heading into a busy month of cricket.

Essex will play three county championship matches and five t20 ties before the month is out.

Masters has been sidelined since the end of April with a quad injury and Napier hasn’t played for three weeks after picking up a groin injury. Meanwhile, ten Doeschate hasn’t featured for Essex this season as he only returned from India this week, having helped the Kolkata Knight Riders lift the IPL Trophy.

“It is nice to see some of our key players returning to the side,” said Grayson. “It buoys the team and gives us more options heading into a very busy period. The top order have had a real chance to show me what they can do while the likes of Ryan and Ravi (Bopara) are away and, although there have been some good performances, we need to be scoring more runs in our first innings.

“It is great to see Ryan back with the team and in such high spirits,” added Grayson, who confirmed the Dutchman will captain Essex Eagles against Surrey in the t20 at the Oval tonight.

“He is a leader and with so many young players in the fold, his experience will be invaluable. We will look to give Graham (Napier) a couple of overs tonight as well but he is unlikely to feature against Kent in the County Championship this weekend. Masters will be back with us for the weekend’s match.”

Essex have started the season with only one win in seven County Championship matches, with rain washing out more than one of those games. Grayson says he is not concerned at Essex’s form.

“It is not a concern. We have got enough points and the teams around us have been dropping points too so if we can get a couple of back-to-back wins in this busy month we will be near the top of the division.

“It was tough only walking away with a draw against Glamorgan, as we came into the final day in a very good position but it wasn’t meant to be.”

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