Grayson hails quality of Essex opening performance

Essex became the first side to record a victory in the County Championship this season when they completed the win over Gloucestershire just 75 minutes into the third morning’s play after a performance that head coach Paul Grayson described as “nearly perfect”.

After an innings and 38-run vicory, giving Essex 23 points from the game, Grayson said: “We were not far off a complete performance with the bat, ball and with our fielding. We’ve been working hard on our preparation coming into the season and it’s always nice when you get a result like this in your first game.”

Grayson has made little secret that the top-priority for his charges this season is to win promotion back to Division One of the Championship. “Last year we started slowly and were left playing catch-up at quite an early stage, so we knew that it was important for us to make a good start this season,” he added.

“But we are not going to get too carried away. It’s only the first game but certainly there are a lot of positives to take out of it. Generally our all-round performance was very solid and everyone feels very good about their own game at the moment. Confidence is high and that’s very important at this time of the year.”

Essex were also missing five members of their first team squad, including Charl Willoughby who was nursing a slight groin problem, and Grayson admits that selection problems may lie ahead.

“Fozzie (James Foster) and I are going to have a few headaches about who to play but that’s a nice dilemma to have,” he said. “Ravi (Bopara) will be available for our next game, at Yorkshire starting on April 19, so somebody is going to have to drop out for him and Charl should also be fit.

“Alastair Cook is going to play a couple of games for us too before England’s first Test against the West Indies later in May, while Owais Shah and Ryan ten Doeschate will be coming back from the IPL at some stage so the depth of the squad is looking good.

“The players know there is going to be keen competition for places, but it’s just important to keep everyone fit and fresh. If we can do that, then we’ll have a good summer.”

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