Essex head coach Paul Grayson has praised his batsmen for their performance against Lancashire at Old Trafford which kept alive hopes of reaching the Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-finals.
They chased down 258 to beat Lancashire by six wickets, with two balls to spare, thanks to an outstanding 104 from opener Mark Pettini and a classy 75 from Owais Shah.
“First and foremost, it was a must-win game for us and at the halfway stage of the match I was not particularly delighted with the way we had bowled or fielded,” Grayson said.
“But we redeemed ourselves with an excellent run chase. Although the wicket didn’t look great, it played a lot better than we all thought. Our batsmen did owe us a victory in one-day cricket – we haven’t batted well all season – so it was nice for them to come up with the goods.
“I did think at one stage that we had left ourselves too much to do but the guys were in control and got us over the line.”
Grayson was also quick to praise the match-winning contributions from Pettini and Shah. “Mark played really well at the top of the order for his century and I’m delighted for him because he’s had a bit of a rough time this summer,” Grayson added. “He’s not scored the weight of runs he would have liked and neither has he played much four-day cricket.
“Owais was superb. We put him down at number four against Lancashire because we felt that they could play a big part and he is obviously a very good player of spin which he showed at the end. His experience proved vital and that one of the main reasons we signed him.
“We wanted him to bed in with our younger lads and one or two of them will have learned a lot from watching his performance in that innings. He’s averaging 50 plus on four-day cricket and has played really well in one-day cricket for us where he’s scored some vital runs. We rely on his experience and we are delighted at the way he’s fitted into our side.”
Essex meet Gloucestershire at Colchester on Sunday August 21 looking to avenge a recent County Championship defeat by the West Country side at the same venue, and they then take on Somerset in the final group match on Monday August 29 in a match that Grayson believes will decide whether his team reach the CB40 semi-finals.
“We had to win against Lancashire,” he added. “It was an ugly win but we got there in the end and it might prove to prove really important. If we beat Gloucestershire we are going to have to go to Taunton needing the win which could hopefully give us first position in our group or a qualifying position as the best-placed second.”