ESSEX head coach Paul Grayson says his team are full of confidence going into tomorrow’s top of the table T20 Blast clash with Surrey.

Fresh from their 10-wicket victory over Gloucestershire in the County Championship, the Eagles return to T20 action leading the South group.

But their visitors are revitalised after finding some excellent form in both forms of the game and arrive at Chelmsford second in the table.

They trail the Eagles by just two points but Grayson believes Essex can secure their eighth win in the competition under the County Ground floodlights.

“Surrey are full of high-quality players, they’ve got momentum and confidence, and it promises to be an excellent game with lots of match-winners on both sides,” Grayson said.

“It will be a tough game on the night with 22 very good cricketers on show.


Ravi Bopara celebrates after claiming the wicket of Kevin Pietersen at the Oval last month. The Essex all-rounder will be hoping for more of the same tomorrow. Picture: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

“There’s a lot of belief in the squad and the confidence in our camp is high at the moment as everyone can see in the manner in which we are playing white ball cricket.”

Essex have named a 14-man squad for the match, which has sold out, but the actual Eagles XI taking to the field will depend on the result of late fitness tests on a couple of players.

Among them is bowler David Masters, who suffered a foot injury during the championship match with Gloucestershire this week.

Grayson said the former Kent man had been for a scan and the club are waiting on the results of that before making a decision on whether he will play.

Surrey arrive with a wealth of talent and experience at their disposal but will be without all-rounder Tillakaratne Dilshan, who has returned to international duty.

But Kevin Pietersen is also expected to feature for the visitors, who will be looking to edge closer to a place in the T20 Blast quarter-finals.

Essex harbour the same ambition although Grayson is still taking nothing for granted despite the Eagles having tasted defeat in only one of their eight games so far.

“Getting through the group stage was always the priority at the start of the competition,” he said.

“Once we’ve done that, we can start looking to add a few more wins to claim either of the top two places in the group that would give us a home tie.”

Essex Eagles squad to face Surrey: Mark Pettini, Jesse Ryder, Tom Westley, Ravi Bopara, Ryan ten Doeschate (Captain), Ben Foakes, James Foster, (Wicket-keeper), Tim Phillips, Graham Napier, David Masters, Matt Salisbury, Reece Topley, Greg Smith, Sajid Mahmood.