Essex Eagles return on Wednesday evening to commence the Vitality Blast campaign with two home fixtures at The Cloudfm County Ground this week starting with a visit from Sussex Sharks on Wednesday evening.
Past encounters between the two sides have seen new records set for the competition.
It was ten years ago that Eagles all-rounder Graham Napier captured the headlines when he re-wrote the record books blasting an unbeaten 152 against the South Coast side at Chelmsford.
His century came off 44 balls, but the remaining 52 took just 14 deliveries and overall he smashed 16 sixes beating the previous best score in the competition of 141 set by Cameron White of Somerset.
But four years later at Chelmsford, Luke Wright set new figures for the domestic competition with 153 not out from 66 balls that included 11 sixes and 12 fours leading his side home in a world record T20 run chase to reach their 226 target.
Napier has since retired but the threat of Wright remains a potential concern for the Eagles who have attracted Australian International Adam Zampa to the Club for this year’s competition.
The leg-spinner has considerable experience of the T20 format having played for Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash and for Rising Pune Supergiants in the Indian Premier League. He has also featured in 31 ODIs and 13 International T20’s for his country.
The 26 year-old makes his debut for the Eagles on Wednesday night and is eagerly looking forward to the experience.
“I’ve been over here for a while now and spent time with the lads in preparation and I can’t t wait to get started,” he said.
“The ground here at Chelmsford is quite compact and it’s important for me just to get used to the size of the it, the crease, but I’ve had a couple of games here already and that’s given me a good insight.
“It’s always an exciting time of the year when T20 starts and I know the guys in our dressing room are looking forward to it and to having a break from the longer form of the game. There is a pretty good buzz around the place.”
Meanwhile, Head Coach Anthony McGrath admits that he is hoping for an improved campaign this year from his squad.
“I think we have been below par in the past couple of years but I believe that with the squad we’ve got together this time, we can do well providing we play somewhere near our capabilities,” he acknowledged.
The signing of Zampa is one that delights him and offers a different look to the bowling attack.
“Personally, I think we’ve lacked some mystery to our attack in the middle overs in the past couple of years and he has the ability to take plenty of wickets and it should be really exciting watching him.
“We’ve also got Neil Wagner for the first part of the T20 campaign and then Peter Siddle joins us, so it’s good to have two overseas players throughout the group games.
“Overall, with the squad we’ve got, I think we look very exciting with the bat and very exciting with the ball, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Essex Eagles squad to face Sussex Sharks:
Ryan ten Doeschate (27) Captain
Adam Wheater (31) Wicket-Keeper
Ravi Bopara (25)
Varun Chopra (6)
Matt Coles (1)
Sam Cook (16)
Simon Harmer (11)
Dan Lawrence (28)
Jamie Porter (44)
Matt Quinn (94)
Neil Wagner (13)
Tom Westley (21)
Ashar Zaidi (99)
Adam Zampa (88)
Following the clash with the Sharks, the Eagles continue the Vitality campaign on Friday with another home game against Middlesex for a sell-out match at The Cloudfm County Ground.
Report provided by Essex CCC