Last season was almost the exact opposite for Essex compared to seasons past when they have excelled in their one-day performances and shown shortcomings in the longer format.
Getting off to a fast start is always important and last season this was the case, which bred confidence in the longer format.
For the first time in many years batsmen found form and Essex scored more heavily in the first innings which helped set up the bowling unit better than previously.
My old captain Keith Fletcher always used the mantra that ‘batsmen set up matches and bowlers won them’ and last season this was true with Jamie Porter leading the way but with all of the bowlers chipping in at vital times.
Essex’s one-day form was well short of previous season’s last year and it is an area they will try to realign their thoughts on this year.
But it will be very difficult for them to be competitive in all formats with the step up into Division One of the County Championship.
Both last year in the off season, and this, there has been strengthening of the squad with experienced players. These signings certainly have improved our championship performances but it concerns me greatly that there have been so few opportunities given to young home grown players.
Essex could field an 11 with four Kolpak and two overseas players limiting the scope for young players.
I hope to see the continuing emergence of Aaron Beard and Dan Lawrence and am excited by the return of Adam Wheater in particular, along with Varun Chopra.
Our overseas players are of proven pedigree and the signing of Simon Harmer would appear to be sound despite my misgivings surrounding Kolpak players.
Ultimately the season’s success is likely to rest on how well we cope with losing experience and quality in David Masters and Graham Napier.
When last in this position, replacing Derek Pringle and I many moons ago proved difficult.
*Neil Foster played for Essex between 1981 and 1993