THERE is no reason why Essex Cricket can’t achieve County Championship glory once again this season.
That is the view of head coach Chris Silverwood after he led the county to the Division Two title last season in emphatic fashion.
Essex led the way for much of the season before wrapping up promotion against Glamorgan in September.
And, having been busy adding reinforcements ahead of their Division One bow against Lancashire on Friday, April 7, Silverwood has challenged his team to be winners once again in 2017.
“There is less than three months until the season starts now and we are all getting excited,” said Silverwood, 41. “Christmas is done and now I am looking forward to the season.
“Monday was the first day back and it is such an exciting and vibrant place to be at the moment.
“Essex Cricket is now back on the biggest stage. Yorkshire is going to be the big one but we will also be going to Old Trafford and Edgbaston among others.
“We are back on the test grounds and that will be a great experience for these players.
“We were successful in the County Championship but we naturally want to target more success in the limited overs competitions as well. We fell a bit short last year and that is another ambition of ours in what we hope will be another good season for the county.
“We have made strong signings and to get them alongside what we have is exciting. This time last year we were dreaming about promotion to Division One so why can’t it be the same now?”
As well as a successful season on the field, Silverwood enjoyed the best possible end to 2016 as he became a father for the third time.
Ruben was born on December 30, with Silverwood admitting another of his children, Harry, is already a big cricket fan.
And the head coach says it was a year he would not forget, as he prepares for a training camp in sunnier climates.
“It was a memorable year in many ways,” he said. “It took a while to sink in how well we had done. You get caught up in everything and I can tick off winning promotion now, although there are many targets still ahead.
“We enjoyed our success last year but that very quickly turned towards thoughts about Division One and how we can improve. (Chief executive) Derek (Bowden), (committee chairman) Ronnie (Irani) and (chairman) John (Faragher) and I sat back and said ‘how can we move forward?’ and ‘who can we bring in?’.
“People have been working hard behind the scenes to push us forward to give us the chances of surviving and thriving.
“We are going to Dubai between March 14 and 25 and will be based at the ICC Academy for some pre-season preparation.
“The 10 days served us well last year and it is also to make sure we are brought back together as a squad.
“It is good to get everyone back and hitting the ground running together. That is what we are aiming for.”