Could 2021 be the year Essex's exciting young batsman Feroze Khushi comes of age?

Khushi was marked out as one to watch this season after a breakthrough in the Bob Willis Trophy last year when he scored a maiden first-class half-century for the champions.

But this season he played in just two Vitality Blast games before bursting back onto the scene with his first hundred against Durham followed by 77 against Sussex in his two Royal London Cup innings.

“People would probably have been questioning why I wasn’t playing considering the season I’d had last year,” Khushi, 22, said.

“I had to make sure I was playing well in the seconds because things can happen so quickly. The innings I’ve played this week eases a lot of pressure – scoring runs can only help my cause.”

Frustratingly for Khushi, he watched other young academy graduates Michael Pepper, Will Buttleman and Josh Rymell overtake him in the pecking order earlier this summer.

“There are a couple of guys who jumped ahead of me which was hard to take because you want to play in the team regularly,” he said.

“I had a good start to my career and thought I would be pushing for that first team place early in the season but the other guys got in. You have to be patient, it is tough.

“In this competition, we’ve had a couple of injuries and Covid issues so I got my chance and was so happy to make a hundred on debut – I couldn’t have asked for a better start.

“I’ve played a few games now and I back myself to play at this level. I’ve done it a few times and go out there and tell myself I’m good enough.”

In both of Khushi’s games this week he has had to rebuild the innings with key batters Alastair Cook and Tom Westley departing early.

Each time he’s put on century partnerships with fellow academy graduate Rymell. Batting for long spells is a responsibility he takes seriously.

“I’ve always enjoyed that regardless of the situation,” Khushi says.

“Against Durham we weren’t in a good position and I’d seen some of the experienced guys get out so you have to bat time.

“It was a similar situation against Sussex but the pitch was pretty flat and I’m in decent nick so I backed myself to get in, face a few balls and adjust to the wicket. I was lucky enough to get some runs again.

“The senior players aren’t always going to score runs so you have to take those opportunities when they come and that shows the captain and coaches that you can take on that responsibility.”

Khushi is a gorgeous batter to watch in full flow.

He has strong wrists, a deceptive amount of power and an innate ability to accelerate in an instant.

“[Going through the gears] is one of my strengths,” Khushi smiles. “I am quite an attacking player and have all the shots and the power to clear any boundary. When I need to switch gears, I can.

“I have shown that in the space of a few balls I can go from a 50 or 60 strike rate to 80 or 90. Everything happens so fast and all of a sudden you are ahead of yourself.”

Essex are guaranteed a spot in the Royal London Cup knockouts but need to beat Lancashire in their final game on Thursday to play at home.