ESSEX captain Ryan ten Doeschate says ‘playing without fear’ will be key in terms of what the county achieves this year.

The Dutchman will skipper Essex in all formats of the game this season, having led them to County Championship Division Two glory last campaign.

And he says Essex are well equipped to handle the challenges Division One will pose.

“The message is that there is nothing to fear,” said ten Doeschate, 36. “We want people to be excited and to take the challenge on. More than anything, the players just want to start playing.

“We want to stay in this league as we worked hard to get here. We want the guys to be fearless too and not to be phased by the step up and there is no reason to be. We want to make our presence felt.

“We have made strides as a team and in the type of cricket we are playing. The guys we already have here have grown and we have recruited well too.

“Losing Napes (Graham Napier) and Hoddy (David Masters) changes the bowling dynamic but we have some young guys who are very close to being very good bowlers.

“Jamie Porter will be key, and we have Neil (Wagner) leading the fast bowlers and a full-time spinner in Simon Harmer, which is something new for us.”

Ten Doeschate takes over from Ravi Bopara in the shorter form of the game, after the latter stepped down to focus on his own performances.

And he said if Bopara enjoys a good season, Essex will reap the benefits.

“My role is the same. Being club captain is about setting the tempo and keeping the right atmosphere in the group. The most important thing is getting the runs of course.

“Ravi always threatens to be the standout players and he often is. If Ravi Bopara has a good season then so will Essex - that is guranateed.”