Chris Wood: T20 qualification is non-negotiable

– ‘Essex are a good one day side, but have probably under-achieved over the years’
– ‘We would like to have got a win on the board in the Championship’
– ‘James Vince has won his first of many caps for England’

It’s been a bit of a quiet start to the season for me.

I played the first Championship match against Sussex, which we lost, but haven’t been able to get in the side since. It’s been a bit frustrating – I’m fully fit and available for selection – but I’ve just got to keep working hard, keep taking wickets and scoring runs in the second team, and hopefully I can get back in.

I’m looking forward to the t20s, which for us start at home against Essex on Friday. As a club we set ourselves targets every year, and for us it’s a non-negotiable to reach the knockouts of this competition. Hopefully we can get to the quarter-finals, we seem to be very good at winning those high-pressure games.

We fancy ourselves against anyone in this format but over the years Essex have been a very good one day side, although they’ve probably under-achieved. They’ve got a few players missing with Ravi (Bopara) and Tendo (Ryan Ten Doeschate) at the IPL. With home advantage in or favour, we’ll expect nothing less than a win.

We had a couple of warm up matches last week. We beat Dorset quite comfortably, and played a couple of games against Sussex down at Hove, so we’re ready, although you never know how it’s going to go until you get started.

We hadthe Yorkshire Championship game going on this week until Wednesday, and the guys got home at silly o’clock in the morning on Wednesday night, so we’ll just have a light training session on Thursday afternoon.

The schedule is tough, especially for the batsmen. The bowling attack will change quite a bit for the t20s, but the batters will pretty much be the same from the Yorkshire game, and it can be quite tough to adapt. At the same time it’s a format our guys enjoy, and t20 cricket gives you a chance to go and express yourself, so it’s something they’ll be looking forward to.

In terms of the Championship games we’ve played so far, we would have liked a win. It’d be stupid if we said we wouldn’t have.

We’ve played some good cricket along the way. We had every chance of winning the game against Warwickshire at Edgbaston, the wicket just didn’t deteriorate enough for us to take twenty wickets. Against Sussex we played some good cricket but for one day we were very, very poor. Against Notts we struggled quite a bit. But with this week’s game against Yorkshire as well, we’ve probably faced the top four teams in the division according to the bookies. You could argue it’s good to get them out of the way, but at the same time it would have been nice to get a win on the board.

One of the main differences between the level in Division One this year and Division Two has been the quality of the bowling attacks. They are out and out quicker in Division One, and I’d say there are three or four really good bowlers in every team, whereas in Division Two it’s two or three.

In that respect, it’s no surprise we’ve brought Fidel Edwards in earlier than planned. We need something a little different in the attack – all the bowlers are quite similar, so that I think is why they’ve got him in early. Also they’re uncertain about Jackson (Bird, the Australian is yet to play this season due to injury). Whether he’s going to play any part, I’m not sure, but it can’t be that bad or he probably would have gone home already.

Finally, it was great to see my mate James Vince get his first England cap in the ODI against Ireland last week. I said at the start of the season that it wouldn’t be a million miles away. Some will say it was against Ireland and England were trying a few things out. He didn’t bat, but he did do his best to shell a chance at slip! Seriously though, I can’t see it being long until he’s in and around those squads on a regular basis. I think they rate him very highly, so hopefully he gets given a chance and he can show what he can do properly.

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