ESSEX will be unchanged as they seek to make it back-to-back wins at the start of their County Championship campaign by beating Surrey at the Oval.
Paul Grayson’s men beat Derbyshire by 53 runs last week while Surrey – relegated from division one last season – lost to Glamorgan.
The Essex coach admits a strong start to their four-day campaign is vital if they want to achieve their ambition of promotion into the country’s top division.
But he has wanted his players not to under-estimate a Surrey side who will include England bowler Chris Tremlett in their side and who beat Essex in a friendly just three weeks ago.
Grayson said: “We’ve said so many times that we feel it is important to get off to a good start if we want to be promotion contenders.
“Surrey are a good side, I know they lost their first game against Glamorgan but they’ve got some good players and that’s the reality of Division Two cricket. If anyone underestimates players or teams, you’ll get caught out. So we’ll be focusing on what we do well.
“We will be taking a lot of confidence into that game after our performance against Derbyshire but it’s only one win and we’ll not be getting carried away with that. There are still a few areas that we can improve upon but it’s nice to get the season off to a good start.”
Essex will again have England skipper Alastair Cook available to them, fresh off his big knock of 181 in the second innings against Derbyshire.
And Grayson wants Essex’s other batsmen to follow Cook’s lead and start putting big scores on the board.
“Cooky got our first century of the season; we’ve been talking about getting hundreds this year so hopefully that’s the first of many from our players this year,” said Grayson. “We showed against Derbyshire that we have plenty of variations in our attack which helps a lot. So there are good positive signs and were in good heart ahead of what will be a difficult game I’m sure.”
The match against Surrey starts at 11am on Sunday.