Essex return to red ball cricket for the first time in a month today buoyed by having qualified for the quarter-final of the One-Day Cup.
The Eagles clinched their place in the last eight with a thrilling five-run win over Hampshire at Chelmsford.
Half-centuries from Jess Ryder, Tom Westley and Ravi Bopara had laid the foundation for an imposing total of 324 but at one stage it did not look enough as former Eagle Adam Wheater showed his liking for the home attack.
He struck a brilliant 135 runs from only 97 deliveries as Hampshire moved to 246-2.
However, Wheater was removed by Ryan ten Doeschate and his accomplice James Vince removed by David Masters, who finished with figures of 3-51, and Hampshire ended up five runs short of Essex’ mark.
Essex travel to Swansea today with the season in four-day cricket also heading towards the business end.
Worcestershire lead Division Two with 205 points from 12 matches, followed by Surrey with 162 from 13 matches and then Hampshire who have 160 points from 12 matches. Essex have 142 points from 12 games, three more points than Kent, who have only played 11 matches thus far.
Essex head coach Paul Grayson said: “We’ve got some crucial games coming up but I think that if we win three of those four matches, that could be enough to see us promoted,” he said.
“We were in good form before the break came, having won two of our last three matches in the format and we can take confidence from the way we’ve been playing white ball cricket that has seen us turn in some very good performances.
“So we are really looking forward to the game down at Swansea and hopefully the weather will allow the game to continue uninterrupted. There is often a positive result down there and hopefully, it will favour us.”
Essex have named a 13-man squad that includes Ravi Bopara, who played a match-winning innings when the team last met at St Helen’s in May 2007.
The England all-rounder hit an unbeaten 147 to steer his side to a four wicket victory after the visitors had been set a target of 322 for victory.