Essex begin their Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign this weekend with back-to-back matches against Nottinghamshire and Lancashire and for one player, in particular, last year’s competition provided welcome solace.
Mark Pettini was in charge of the Eagles when they embarked on last year’s 40-over campaign but after struggling with his personal form in County Championship and Twenty20 cricket, he decided to stand down from leading the side.
He retained his role, though, as opening batsman in the competition and proved an effective member of the side that reached the semi-finals and finishing the season as the Eagles’ second highest run-scorer in the competition last year.
“I’m looking forward to playing the white-ball game again,” he said. “I feel I did okay in this form of the game last year where obviously you can play with a lot more freedom than in Championship cricket.
“The 40-overs game did give me an element of re-assurance last year during the period when I was struggling for runs in other forms of the game. I think it helps that the games are a bit shorter so you have less time to think and worry about any distractions.
“There is no doubt that if you are struggling a bit, playing with the white ball can certainly help you get through a difficult time.”
Essex were knocked out at the semi-final stage by Somerset last summer although they are determined to go one better this time around.
“We are in a tough group this year but we back ourselves to beat any side in the country in limited-overs cricket and hopefully we’ll get the campaign off to a good start this weekend,” added Pettini.
Pettini was omitted from the Essex line-up for the first two Championship matches but was recalled for the game at Northants where he produced a match saving innings of 67 not out before following up with another half-century in the win over Glamorgan.
“A lot of my preparation pre-season centred around the red-ball game, nothing in particular but just working hard on my technique generally although, obviously, I’ve been practicing my one-day skills as well,” he said.
“I’ve been working really hard in the nets and it was disappointing to be left out of the first two matches, but you have to be patient and be sure to take your opportunity when it does arise.
“So it’s been nice to score a few runs in the last couple of innings and it’s satisfying when you go into the middle and deliver the skills and techniques you’ve been practicing with some success.
“Until you get out on the middle and score runs, you don’t know if it’s going to work for you.”