Neil Wagner will resume his Essex career on Thursday, as he takes the field for the first time this summer when the Eagles begin their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign.
Anthony McGrath has named a 13-man squad for the opening match against Middlesex at Radlett, with the New Zealand opening bowler due to lead the attack.
The left-armer is chomping at the bit to get going, having arrived back in the UK a couple of weeks ago to prepare for his upcoming stint.
“It’s great to be back and see so many familiar faces in the dressing room and around the Club,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to spending time with the guys and looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead and trying to contribute in whichever way possible to help continue the success we enjoyed last year.”
Wagner has taken over from Australian Peter Siddle, who helped Essex win two of five County Championship matches during his brief tenure. Wagner will be with the Club until the end of July and will be available for all three formats starting with the upcoming 50 over campaign.
Wagner took 14 wickets in seven matches last year in the Royal London Cup including two four-wicket hauls against Hampshire and Glamorgan.
“I think we played some exceptional cricket in the 50 over format last year and thoroughly deserved to win our place in the semi-final, but then we got on the wrong end of what was a really special game,” he reflected.
“Hopefully we can go one step further this time around.”
The Eagles stormed through the Group stages winning seven of their eight matches and only lost their 100 per cent record when Glamorgan won a nail-biter by just one run. That storming run of success earned the Eagles a home tie with Notts Outlaws in the semi-final but the Eagles were eventually beaten by five wickets.
Ryan ten Doeschate believes the time has come for the Eagles to reach a Cup final at Lord’s once again.
“We showed that we are a good one-day side last year when we had an exceptional run through the group stage and were just one more win away from a finals appearance,” the Essex captain reflected. “It was back in 2008 when we last won the 50 over competition and so it’s about time we experienced a Lord’s final once again.”
The Eagles again play their eight group matches in succession as they put their claims to retain their County Championship title on temporary hold and ten Doeschate admits that the switch to white ball cricket could be a blessing.
“We scored plenty of runs in this format last year and our batters haven’t scored as many as they would have liked so far this season in the Championship so the 50-over competition could give them the opportunity to find their form,” he explained.
“It gives us a good opportunity to focus on a different competition and put the Championship behind us for a while, although it was great to sign off from that tranche of matches with a win against Worcestershire.
“We are going into the one-day matches with a lot of confidence, particularly after that win over Worcestershire, but we know that the matches in this format are going to be tough. There are a lot of good sides in our group starting with Middlesex on Thursday and we will have to be right at the top of our game if we are to start the competition with a victory.”
Essex Eagles squad:
Ryan ten Doeschate (27) Captain
James Foster (7) Wicket-keeper
Aaron Beard (14)
Ravi Bopara (25)
Varun Chopra (6)
Sam Cook (16)
Simon Harmer (11)
Dan Lawrence (28)
Jamie Porter (44)
Neil Wagner (13)
Tom Westley (21)
Adam Wheater (31)
Ashar Zaidi (99)
Report provided by Essex CCC