x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Essex keep focus on preparations

Jason Gallian says a goodwill gesture by the Essex players to rescue their UAE trip can help them repeat their successful efforts of last season.

LONDON // Jason Gallian says a goodwill gesture by the Essex players to rescue their UAE trip can help them repeat their successful efforts of last season. The English county's place in the Emirates Airline Pro Arch Trophy was in jeopardy for financial reasons. But the team decided to use their winter payments grant from the ECB - around £2,000 (Dh11,000) per player - to fund the eight-team pre-season tournament, which runs from March 17 to 25, and also features Yorkshire, Lancashire, Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex and the UAE and Fly Emirates sides.

Gallian, who worked this winter at a bank, admits the global financial situation has not made life easy for anyone. But the players felt the games in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah could be crucial in their preparation for the new campaign. Last season Essex won the Friends Provident Trophy and the Pro40 Division Two title, while also reaching the Twenty20 Cup finals day. "We know how valuable this tour can be towards achieving success because we had it last season," said Gallian.

"Pulling out of the tournament was a viable option and that would have been a shame. It was a feel-good factor doing this and hopefully we can benefit as a team." Gallian, 37, says Essex can challenge again, particularly with players looking to shine on the bigger stage. Ravi Bopara will be one after missing out on the West Indies tour as he looks to return to the England fold . Despite costing the Kings XI Punjab US$450,000 (Dh1.6 million) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, he missed out on the West Indies tour.

But Gallian, who played three Tests for England, added: "He will come back; he is a quality player and we are going to see a lot more from him in England colours. "He is a very talented batsman and has the annoying ability to make things look so easy. He needs a run in the England team, and Owais Shah is in the same situation. They need a chance." akhan@thenational.ae