THE Essex first team will return to Garon Park for the first time in five years tomorrow.

Essex are set to take on the Netherlands, as the Festival of International Cricket gets underway.

Although Garon Park is often used as an Essex second XI venue, it will be the first time that Essex’s first team have competed on the turf since 2012.

And the Essex and Southend Sports Trust chairman is delighted to be welcoming the Essex charges back to Garon Park.

Peter Butler, who is also a former chairman of the Southend Cricket Festival Committee, said: “The fact that the Essex first team wants to come to Garon Park is a big plus for Southend.

“Facilities at the ground have been significantly improved over the last five years and I certainly hope this is the first of many more visits.”

The Essex second team were originally due to face the Netherlands, as the national side prepares for an International Cricket Council tournament.

But the Netherlands will now come face-to-face with the current County Championship Division One frontrunners.

Alastair Cook will not appear in the 50 over match, which gets underway at 11am and is free to attend, but a host of players who will compete in the One-Day Cup semi-final on Friday are expected to be involved.