Essex still not giving up on County Championship promotion

Although Essex were unable to extend a three-match winning run in the County Championship when they were forced to settle for a draw and eight points from the game with Glamorgan at Cardiff last week, coach Paul Grayson still believes his charges can challenge for promotion.

“We kept our unbeaten run going and that was important,” he said. “We are fully aware that we might have to win all four of our remaining games but three of them are at home. We play Gloucestershire (also promotion contenders and currently third) at Colchester and meet Derbyshire and Surrey at Chelmsford, while the other match is against Kent at Canterbury.”

Essex found themselves 28 points behind leaders Northamptonshire and 23 points adrift of second-placed Middlesex at the start of this week, having also played more games than either of those two rivals. Glamorgan captain Alviro Petersen acknowledged that the draw with Essex had probably ended his county’s promotion interests for the season but Grayson is still hopeful that Essex can make a successful late bid to reach the first division.

“We’ve given our players a few days off this week after what has been a heavy workload and I’m sure they will come back refreshed and re-focussed,” he added. “We go to Old Trafford on Sunday for a one-day game and then we play our next Championship game at Colchester next week.

“All we can do is try to keep the pressure on the teams above us and, if they slip up, we need to make sure that we are in the right position to capitalise. I think our four-day cricket is showing good signs of improvement and when you look at the side we had out at Glamorgan, six of the lads are under 22 and that bodes well for the future.”

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