ESSEX Eagles coach Paul Grayson has backed his strong batting line-up to smash his side past Birmingham Bears tomorrow.
The Eagles’ top five batsmen are likely to be Mark Pettini, Jesse Ryder, Tom Westley, Ravi Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate – who have contributed big scores throughout the competition, with Westley hitting an unbeaten 109 in the last match against Sussex Sharks and Pettini and Ryder also smashing half centuries in recent matches.
And Grayson says he strongly believes his team will progress to their second Finals Day in successive years, whether they bat first at the Essex County Ground or are chasing a score down, something they have been successful at this year in t20.
“This is the business end of the year,” said Grayson. “We have been very consistent in the t20 and deserve our place in the quarters.
“But we want to progress further and win it. I said we could win it before and I still believe it now. “We may have lost three in a row but we have a very determined group and when it comes to it, we will be ready.
“We like to chase at Chelmsford but we have been cutting it quite fine at times. Saying that, we are making good use of the system and are scoring very well in the first six overs. It helps that our opening six batsmen are so accomplished and can all hit big scores.
“We have seen Tom Westley make two hundreds and his shot selection has been tremendous, providing excellent back-up at number three.
“With Ravi Bopara and Tendo (Ryan ten Doeschate) backing up Tom after our strong opening pair (Mark Pettini and Jesse Ryder) we have a batting line-up to fear. I am sure Birmingham Bears know that.”
Grayson says the last three results have been forgotten about, as his side were already assured of a quarter-final place weeks ago, and he is focused on the Birmingham Bears.
“I am very pleased to see the progress made by the side in the competition,” he added. “We have always looked relaxed and composed when we take to the pitch and that cannot be underestimated.
“I have watched a few videos of the Birmingham Bears in this year’s competition and have done quite a bit of research.
“We know their strengths and weaknesses, but the fact that they have finished fourth and us first means nothing.
“They have qualified so they are dangerous and we will need to be at our best to win,” he added.