Pettini eyes overdue promotion for Essex

ESSEX captain Mark Pettini has set his sights firmly on winning promotion to the LV County Championship Division One this season, writes MIKE SAIMMONDS. The county have languished in the second tier of English cricket since they were relegated back in 200

ESSEX captain Mark Pettini has set his sights firmly on winning promotion to the LV County Championship Division One this season, writes MIKE SAIMMONDS.

The county have languished in the second tier of English cricket since they were relegated back in 2003 and Pettini, now in his second full season as skipper, is expecting them to finally regain their place amongst the elite.

"We've been in Division Two for a long time now, probably too long, so that's one of our main goals this season, to get promotion to the first division," he said, after Essex moved to strengthen their batting department by signing Matt Walker from Kent and the unattached John Maunders in the close season.

"We have to be aware that we were probably light on runs in our first innings' last season, but we've signed some pretty experienced batsmen, and that should help us cross that line to going up."


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Although there have been no new faces in the bowling department, Pettini is confident his side will have enough firepower with some new faces coming to the fore.

"There is competition for places which is great to have as a captain," he said.

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"David Masters is a seasoned pro now and bowled superbly for us last year, while 'Napes' (Graham Napier) has been around a bit. A couple of young lads in Chris Wright and Maurice Chambers have come on leaps and bounds this winter too and I'm expecting big things from them this year."

Essex have been fortunate enough in recent seasons to bank on the prodigious talents of all-rounder Ravi Bopara.

This campaign, it is likely that the former Brampton Manor school pupil, will spend plenty of time away with the England set-up, along with opener Alastair Cook, but despite their absences, Pettini (pictured right) remains confident the side will cope.

"We've got a lot of guys who are pushing for international calls, Ravi and 'Cookie' we probably won't see much of this time, while 'Fozzie' (James Foster) will no doubt get another chance," said the captain, who will also be without Graham Napier for a short period, as the all-rounder is representing Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

"You just wish those guys the best of luck and I know as captain, and everyone else at Essex knows how hard they work, so when they get the recognition, they deserve that.

"It's good as a captain to have the bonus of international players coming back to play for you, but we always want them to do well.

"It will be a great experience for Graham too, the guys he can be around and learn off are people who have really focused in on Twenty20 cricket.

"Hopefully he can bring back some great ideas for us and they will benefit us as well as him as a player.

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