The season is now in full swing as we enter into round 4 of the County Championship with an encounter between two of the more successful clubs in recent memory. Essex had a week off last week but will feel that they had the better of a high-scoring, but rain affected draw with Kent; while Surrey sit top of the table after a thumping nine-wicket victory over Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
The last time these two sides met at Chelmsford resulted in a six wicket victory for Surrey after an unbeaten Will Jacks first innings century was backed up Aussie seamer Dan Worrall taking 11 wickets in the match. This time around should promise another evenly matched contest between two sides packed full of quality.
Both sides are unlikely to make wholesale changes to their starting XI’s, as Essex likely to welcome seamer Sam Cook back into the side after missing the Kent match through a hamstring niggle, Ben Allison looks the most likely to make way for the one of the most impressive seamers on the county circuit. The top order batters appear to have found some form, with Nick Browne and Tom Westley making 159 and 148 respectively at Canterbury. Keeper-batter Michael Pepper may keep his place if Adam Rossington’s hand injury is not fully healed, and he can be pleased with his performance with a run-a-ball 52 showcasing his white ball skills in the red ball game.
The visitors have a squad which is the envy of many clubs, particularly in the bowling department with the likes of West Indian Kemar Roach, Australians Sean Abbott and Dan Worrall, alongside local talent like Tom Lawes. England keeper Ben Foakes also looks to be fully over his back issue and should keep his spot in a talented batting line up alongside proven performers like Rory Burns, Ollie Pope, and the impressive young keeper-batter Jamie Smith who scored a high-quality 88 in a relatively low scoring encounter at Edgbaston against a quality attack.
This should be a tightly fought contest between two good sides and two high-quality seam attacks, which may mean that this could be a low scoring encounter despite the riches on offer in the two teams batting line ups, if the Chelmsford pitch performs as it usually does.
Nick Browne and Tom Westley both scored big runs last time out against Kent, and both will be key to the home sides chances in this game. Jamie Porter and Sam Cook are also likely to have a big say in this game as they have run through many a batting line up in their time together, particularly at Chelmsford.
The international class of Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes will be key to the visitors hopes of putting a good score on the board, but the recent form of Jamie Smith will be just as important for Surrey. The young keeper-batter is highly regarded throughout the county circuit by many good judges, and his performance against Warwickshire last time out shows he has the quality to perform in seaming conditions against quality attacks.
Essex squad: tbc
Surrey squad: tbc
Weather and conditions:
The forecast for day one looks good, but not overly warm with a top temperature of 16 degrees so jumpers may still be required. Days two, three, and four may see some weather interruptions, with rain showers forecast even if the temperatures rise slightly up to the heady highs of 18 degrees.
Date: 4th – 7th May 2023
Ground: County Ground, Chelmsford
Odds (Sky Bet): Essex 11/10; Surrey 8/11 (Bet365)