Nick Browne says he is hungrier than ever to help Essex enjoy a successful end to the season.

The left-handed opener has been absent for a large chunk of Essex’s summer with a broken finger, missing three mid-summer County Championship matches, as well as the entire Royal London Cup campaign.

Ahead of the start of today’s four day match against Hampshire, Browne admits the division is too close to call, but is determined to leave his mark.

“I feel like I’ve hardly played and I’m desperate to score some runs and make up for a disappointing season,” he said. “With having that injury the hunger is massive now.

“I’m probably different to everyone else, I’ve missed so much I want to keep playing past the end of the season. Most county players who’ve played all formats want to get to October and get the season out the way. I’ve got to make the most of it now.

“It’s definitely been a disjointed season and, yes, it feels like a wasted summer. It felt like it should have been a season that, at 27, I could have really kicked on. So in that respect it’s been very disappointing. My finger is feeling good and it’s behind me now. I want to try and finish the season well and hit the ground running for next year.”

Following his absence, Browne has revised his early season targets and is looking to score three centuries in the remaining five games. Since his comeback he has scored three fifties in four innings, compared to a total of 83 runs in five pre-injury outings.

Browne knows he missed out on posting his first Championship century of the season at Taunton last week, falling 14 short when he was one of spinner Jack Leach’s eight second-innings victims.

He adds that the division is ‘so close that you’re looking at the top one week and relegation the next’ and his team are very much in a dogfight.

“It’s all hands to the pump,” said the opening batsman.

“The mood in the camp is really good. We all get along and that goes a long way. If there were rifts and you’re not performing, that’s when things can go from bad to worse. But we all stick together and go for it as one.

“We get around anyone who’s struggling and make sure they come out the other end.”

Play gets underway at 11am at the CloudFM Ground.