ESSEX Cricket’s committee chairman Ronnie Irani says the he wants more players to “sweat blood” for the shirt as they look to next season.

The former club captain and England international has spent almost 10 weeks in his new role, after replacing long-term chairman Graham Saville in July, and he is now preparing for next year’s campaign as he looks to help assemble a squad capable of challenging in all formats of the game.

The last few months have been a source of frustration for Irani, with the Eagles failing to mount a serious challenge in both the Twenty20 and One Day Cup competitions.

And although they finished the County Championship season strongly, it came too little too late to mount a promotion charge.

The club parted company with head coach Paul Grayson a month ago and work has started on recruiting a replacement, with the job advertised on the Essex website earlier this week.

And, after the departures of Reece Topley and Mark Pettini in recent weeks, Irani now wants to get the committed players on board, as he looks to the future.

“Players come and go here as they do at all clubs in any sport,” he said. “But we want players at Essex who want to give their all for this great cricket club. There is a difference between people who say they want to play here and people who actually do want to be here and we need to get that sorted.

“We need focus and it is unacceptable if we don’t challenge in all competitions.

“If you sign a contract with Essex you are playing to win. It is as simple as that. But I am positive that, come next season, we will have a squad ready to compete on all fronts.”

Irani is still waiting on captain and wicketkeeper James Foster to commit to the club beyond the end of next season, although he expects him to agree terms shortly, but he says he wants players in the mould of the current skipper, Ravi Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate to play for the county.

And with Jesse Ryder still with a year to run on his contract, there are plenty of experienced heads for the up and coming stars to look to for guidance.

“Jesse Ryder will be here next season and we have offered James Foster a new long-term contract with us that would see him through to the end of his career. He has had a fabulous career and is a fine cricketer.

“He is one of our own in the same way Ravi Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate are ones of our own.

“They were young when they came to the club and they are Essex through and through. They are proud to wear the badge and that’s what I want to see.

“Players like James, Ryan and Ravi sweat blood for their county and their focus is all on cricket.

“If players want to go then that is fine, but I want players here who want to be here and are proud to don the shirt.

“We want winners. We want people to go on and represent England and doing that is part of our DNA. And we won’t stop now.”



VACANT HEAD COACH POSITION: CHRIS Silverwood, below, is a great lad and he has done well. When appointing a new head coach we need to go through the right processes and channels however, and we will not be rushing any decision.

We will advertise the position and do things the proper way as we never know who will apply for the position. I don’t run the show I am just the chairman. That said I want to do as much as I can to make sure we reach the right decision.

It is a huge job and one of the biggest in the country without a doubt.



HIS NEW POSITION: I AM really enjoying it. I love Essex Cricket Club and it is a pleasure to work there. The people know and love their cricket and they have always got behind the team as well which is important.

It is an exciting time to be part of the club as it is certainly going places and we are more than capable of winning things.

RED BALL CRICKET: WE finished the season well in the County Championship (finishing third in Division Two) but we need to be aiming for promotion, not just a strong finish.

And that goes for all competitions, not just the County Championship. We need to achieve more. The supporters and the players want to achieve more and so do I. That said, so does every other side in this division but I see no reason why we can’t be pushing in every competition.

WHITE BALL CRICKET: WE fell short in the Twenty20 but we did in all competitions as far as I am concerned. This is a team that needs to be successful and we should be as we have a fine one-day side. We always have such a wonderful atmosphere at home in one-day cricket and I want to reward the fans with some success, as last season was ultimately disappointing.

NICK BROWNE, ESSEX BATSMAN OF THE YEAR: NICK Browne, below, needs to be patient in regard to international recognition. He mustn’t dwell on it as that will come. He has had a brilliant season and if he had known what he would do this year a year ago, surpassing 1,000 first-class runs in a season, he would be very proud.



JAMIE PORTER, ESSEX BOWLER OF THE YEAR: WE need to strengthen the bowling department. We have some fine batsmen and I think we are well equipped there and that is not to say we do not have good bowlers at the club.

Jamie Porter, below, is one of the best young bowlers I have seen in many years and I am chuffed he is doing so well.

He has the support of a fabulous family and he knows what he wants. It was the same for James Foster when he was growing up and other players as well. They are surrounded by the right people.



JAMES FOSTER’S ROLE AS FOREST SCHOOL’S CRICKET PROFESSIONAL: I THINK it is an excellent idea. We don’t just want to see James, below, through his career but help him afterwards as well and Forest School is a great opportunity for him. It is only in the winter months and I think it benefits all parties.

If anything I don’t see why more players shouldn’t follow suit and take up an ambassadorial role at schools.