TOM Westley is urging his players to continue their recent years of success and create another halcyon era for Essex when they return to action this week.

The 32 year-old, who took over as captain from Ryan ten Doeschate last season, marked the start of his leadership tenure by leading his men to the Bob Willis Trophy, the only red-ball domestic competition last year.

That gave the county their third red-ball title in four years to add to the Twenty20 title they lifted in 2019.

“We want to make this another stellar age for Essex Cricket and not just a successful four or five years period," said Westley.

"We want to replicate what was perceived as the golden era of Essex cricket achieved under Keith Fletcher and Graham Gooch and we are working hard to achieve that."

Under those two Essex legends, the county lifted 11 major titles that included being crowned County Championship winners on six occasions.

“The success that this present crop of players has achieved has been fantastic to be a part of - not just for us as players - but for the supporters and everyone associated with the club and yes, we have won a lot of trophies in a short period of time,” Westley enthused.

“When you are a young player coming up through the academy, and I was one of those since I was 12 or 13 , you do hear a lot about the former eras and the trophies the club has won and the great achievements of ‘Fletch’ and ‘Goochie’. So, it is very special to be a part of what is being achieved here at this moment in time.”

The Cambridge-born batsman and skipper is quick to extend fulsome praise to Head Coach Anthony McGrath for the current run of titles.

“Huge credit for that must go to him, he has been phenomenal and the most successful coach in the country for the past half a decade, “ Westley insisted.

“Working closely with him and having a close relationship , I know that he wants exactly the same, he doesn’t want this to be this to be a flash in the pan lasting just a few years, he wants to keep extending this period of success and achievement and make this a new golden era for the club.

“That’s the challenge for everyone here.”

For the first time, there will be two-red ball trophies up for grabs with the return of County Championship whilst the top-two counties in that competition will also contest the Bob Willis Trophy.

“It seems quite a while ago (September) that we won the Bob Willis Trophy at Lord’s and it was certainly very special for me from a personal point of view,” he admitted.

“But now all the focus is on planning and working towards further successes.

“Obviously the winter has been very challenging, not just for us as cricketers, but for everyone.

"Pre-season was different this year, we would normally have flown out to Abu Dhabi to continue our preparations with some outside work but obviously because of the Covid-19 situation, that was not been possible.

“But Stuart Kerrison and his ground staff have been terrific in enabling us to get some practice outside here at Chelmsford, it’s been cold and wet on occasions but at least we have got some practice and we’ve been able to play some friendly matches.

"It’s been nice to get some sort of uniformity back to our lives.

“Now the season is almost upon us and we can’t wait to get started. We have nine successive Championship matches starting with a home match against Worcestershire this Thursday so it’s important to be on our game from the start.

“We’ve had such a vast amount of success in red-ball cricket at Chelmsford in the recent few years and hopefully, we can launch the 2021 season with another home victory. ”