ANTHONY McGrath believes Essex are capable of topping the success they had last season as they gear up for the 2018 campaign.

The new head coach is chomping at the bit to get started after he stepped up from assistant following the departure of Chris Silverwood.

And McGrath, who has named Dimitri Mascarenhas as his assistant, says he is now excited at Essex’s upcoming tour of Barbados to take on the MCC ahead of the start of the County Championship season in under a month.

“We have been looking forward for a while,” said McGrath, as Essex were honoured at Lord’s earlier this week. “It is nice to have a day out like this but as soon as last season was over we were looking forward.

“Preparations have gone really well. We have had lads playing cricket, which is good, and we are looking forward to heading to Barbados as a group now.

“I am where I wanted to be when I took over. We have Dimi in and he is a great addition from an experience and tactical point of view. We have secured most of the players and we have a real good mix about us.

“Now it is a case of adding the final touches.”

McGrath paid tribute to the contribution of Silverwood, who departed to join England as fast bowling coach last year.

And he also stressed the importance of the pre-season tour to the Caribbean following recent experiences abroad.

“It is really important,” he said. “The last two seasons we had good preparation in Dubai and we want the same in Barbados.

“We can look at the batting line-up, the bowling department and it is a chance to get everyone together and play some matches.

“We surprised people last year and the challenge for the players is to raise their standards. But we want them to improve as individuals too.”