It is fair to say that by the recent lofty standards at Chelmsford over the past few years, that 2022 was somewhat disappointing. They were never really in serious contention for the Championship and failed to raise a significant challenge in the white ball formats. The bowling unit once again performed admirably with Simon Harmer and Sam Cook putting up impressive numbers, but the batting (Sir Alistair Cook aside) failed to fire consistently as a unit. Pitches at Chelmsford, especially in the latter stages of the season are somewhat bowler-friendly even including the farcical 2-day defeat to Lancashire. There is still a reliance on the senior players, and how long Sir Alistair Cook will continue playing remains to be seen, so the batting line up will need refreshing at some point either internally through academy talent like Feroze Khushi and Michael Pepper, or through external recruits.
LV= CC: 4th – Division One
Vitality Blast: 3rd – South Group, Lost at Quarter Final stage
RLODC: 6th – Group B
LV= CC: Alistair Cook – 966 runs @ 42.00
Vitality Blast: Michael Pepper – 439 runs at 36.58 (SR 163.19)
RLODC: Grant Roelofsen – 355 runs @ 59.16
LV= CC: Simon Harmer 59 wickets at 20.67
Vitality Blast: Simon Harmer – 17 wickets at 21.35 (6.76 rpo)
RLODC: Shane Snater – 14 wickets at 23.85
Player of the season: Simon Harmer – the erstwhile South African office had another excellent domestic season with the red and white ball, as well making some important contributions with the bat in the lower middle order with 4 Championship 50’s. Without him it’s fair to say that the Eagles may have been in deep trouble.
Breakthrough Player: Shane Snater – the Dutch seamer became a permanent fixture in the red ball side this season and made some real telling contributions with bat and ball, finishing as Essex’s fourth highest run scorer in the Championship with 463 runs, and third in the wicket tally with 36 wickets.
Could have done better: Dan Lawrence – Prior to the start of the season the England batter had a promising test tour of the West Indies where he made some exciting contributions and showed real promise to nail down a middle order spot. An unfortunate hamstring injury in May put him out of action until July and struggled for runs and rhythm when he returned. 420 runs at 22.10 in 12 games is a disappointing return for a player of his undoubted calibre, and he will need to regroup and come back strong next season if he is push for England honours again.
Need to work on: The batting unit struggled again this year, with Sir Alistair Cook being the only to threaten the 1000 run mark in Championship cricket and only 3 passed 500. To be fair, they are not helped by the pitches at Chelmsford, and the failure to chase 98 against Lancashire in September was a real low point. Even in the friendlier batting conditions in May and June, they still struggled to put big scores on the board as they passed 400 on 4 times all season and were often bailed out by the bowling unit. Once Cook retires they will need to find a quality top order batter, and they will expect more from the likes of Browne, Westley, and Lawrence next season. Grant Roelofsen also looks a real find, he dominated in club cricket in the Essex leagues, and performed exceptionally in the Royal London One Day Cup, Essex would be wise to snap him up next season to bolster the batting ranks. Some attention also needs to be paid to the white ball teams as even though they performed creditably in the Blast to add some quality to the white ball bowling.
What’s next? There looks to be some rebuilding to do, especially in the batting department, but the club still have plenty of talent to call upon, so it is not all doom and gloom. The likes of Feroze Khushi, Michael Pepper, Shane Snater, Sam Cook show that there is some young talent at the club to build around, and with the right overseas players to complement Simon Harmer they could perform strongly next season. Additionally, the club may take a good look at the quality of pitches at Chelmsford to give their batters a better chance of posting substantial first innings scores.
Mark: 6/10 – Showed some promise at times, but room for improvement