MATT Coles believes Essex face a tougher ask than ever if they are to retain their County Championship crown this season.

The all-rounder is a new addition at Essex following his move from Kent following the end of the last campaign.

And the 27-year-old, who has signed a deal until the end of the 2019 season, has made a good impression since making the switch to Chelmsford.

But he wants to contribute more than a winning personality when the season begins next Friday against Yorkshire.

“I hope to bring plenty of wickets, a few runs and some catches as well,” smiled Coles. “I want to bring some positivity around the place and more energy on and off the pitch. It is important to keep morale high in the tough times.

“I want to offer something different to what Essex already have. I am part of a talented squad and an excellent bowling attack and I certainly hope to bring more than what is already here.

“I believe I can bring plenty more wickets to a team that already has plenty in its locker.”

Coles started his career at Kent, before rejoining the club in 2015 after an 18-month spell with Hampshire.

With 334 wickets in first-class cricket at an average of 29.25 and a further 202 dismissals in limited-overs matches, Coles promises to bring more firepower to a fast bowling attack that includes Jamie Porter, Sam Cook, Neil Wagner and Paul Walter.

Coles also averages 20.17 with the bat in the four-day format, with one century and 12 fifties to his name.

And the all-rounder insists there is plenty more to come after an enjoyable first five months at the club, while admitting he could actually have moved to Chelmsford in years past.

“Ironically I chatted with Essex when I left Hampshire a few years ago and looking back maybe I could have come but either way I am pleased to be here now,” he said.

“It has been brilliant so far. The players have welcomed me well and it was a great trip to Barbados to play the MCC which we got plenty out of.

“Fingers crossed we hit the ground running and getting overs under our belt will only be beneficial going forwards.

“It is always going to be hard at the start of the season as everyone will have looked to strengthen their squads and you don’t know what different teams will throw at you.

“I find there is an upward trend in terms of everyone’s progress.

“I wouldn’t say the quality plateaus but we always want to do better.

“I believe in this group and think we will do well.”