Essex and Warwickshire meet at Chelmsford on Wednesday in a dress rehearsal for their T20 Blast quarter-final. The two teams experienced contrasting fortunes in their opening RL One-Day Cup matches with Essex coming out on top against Lancashire and the Bears suffering a reverse against Nottinghamshire.
The Eagles are riding a crest of a wave at the moment with eight victories in their last ten completed one-day matches. A late surge saw them qualify for the T20 knockout stage and they have good pedigree in the 50 over competition. Their last triumph at Lord’s came in 2008 whilst they have also tasted success in the Pro40 League in recent years.
They look set to challenge again this year with a stellar batting lineup headed by Ravi Bopara who is fresh from an unbeaten century against Lancashire. Jesse Ryder and Ryan ten Doeschate will add impetus at the end of the innings whilst Graham Napier and David Masters will add potency to the bowling attack. Paul Grayson is blessed with a confident team and the Eagles fans will be expecting another win on Wednesday.
Warwickshire can also call upon a mixture of experience and youth for their RL One-Day cup campaign. The team is well led by Varun Chopra who may have Jonathan Trott beside him at the crease in Chelmsford. The top order was destroyed by Dan Christian on Sunday and may face similar problems on Wednesday with Ian Bell back on England duty. Jeetan Patel and Rikki Clarke have 38 wickets apiece in the County Championship whilst young leg-spinner Josh Poysden will also be looking to impress in this tournament. The bookies are struggling to separate the two sides, suggesting it could be a cracking match at the County Ground.
Whilst Ravi Bopara grabbed the headlines against Lancashire, he was given excellent bowling support by Reece Topley. The young left-armer has recovered from a back injury over the winter to be one of Essex’s main threats in 2015. Despite not being a regular in the County Championship side, he snared 14 victims in the T20 Blast with the combination of swing and accuracy proving lethal. He brought that form into the RL One-Day Cup by dismissing Ashwell Prince in the first over on Monday. A call up to the England squad for the T20 against New Zealand shows that he is in the selectors’ minds and another good performance against Warwickshire will continue his upward curve.
The return of Chris Woakes has provided a boost to the Bears who already boast a strong one-day side. The all-rounder represented England in the World Cup earlier this year collecting impressive figures against Scotland and New Zealand. However, a knee injury ruled him out of action for the first half of the season. He showed little signs of rustiness against Durham in his first match back as he collected four wickets and 29 runs. The battle between Woakes and Bopara on Wednesday could prove vital in which team comes out on top.
The Eagles have named an unchanged squad from the Lancashire match and Paul Grayson is unlikely to tinker with the final line up. The lack of injuries has helped Essex in the limited overs competitions this season but they still lack a regular spinner. Aron Nijjar may challenge Kishen Velani for his spot whilst Jamie Porter provides seam back up.
Essex squad: Ryan ten Doeschate (C), Ravi Bopara, Nick Browne, James Foster (WK), David Masters, Graham Napier, Aron Nijjar, Mark Pettini, Jamie Porter, Jesse Ryder, Reece Topley, Kishen Velani, Tom Westley
Warwickshire will be forced into at least one change from their last match as Ian Bell joins up with the England squad. He could be replaced by former international Jonathan Trott who is pushing for a recall. Varun Chopra should be fit after a wrist injury but Jonathon Webb may miss out after injuring his shoulder against Nottinghamshire. The Bears fielded three slow bowlers last time out but they may have to change tactics on a Chelmsford track that will favour the seamers.
Warwickshire squad: TBA
Weather and conditions
It should be a dry and fine day in Chelmsford with temperatures around 18˚C throughout the afternoon. The pitch favoured the batsmen in the T20 Blast but Lancashire’s low score on Monday indicates it could be harder in this competition. The floodlights should have little effect with sunset not due to take place until 9pm.
Date: 29th July 2015
Ground: County Ground, Chelmsford
Umpires: Nick Cook and Neil Mallender
Odds (Bet365): Essex 4/5, Warwickshire 1/1