Coles: We've done it before, we can do it again
PUBLISHED: 11:30 30 April 2019
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Essex will look to produce another great comeback to reach the knock-out stages of the Royal London Cup
Matt Coles's triumphant return to the red No1 shirt has provided a comforting sense of déjà vu to Essex's mercurial Royal London Cup campaign as they prepare for the visit of Sussex Sharks to Chelmsford today.
It was at this point last year, with an identical record of two wins from the opening five games, that Coles made his competitive debut for Essex and sparked a three-match winning run that carried the Eagles through to the knockout stages.
The 28-year-old seamer took three wickets in his first game against Glamorgan and followed up with two in each of the wins against Sussex and Kent before adding two more in the quarter-final defeat by Yorkshire. He marked his 2019 debut on Sunday by taking his best figures for Essex (four for 48) against Hampshire to revive hopes of another late burst for a top-three finish.
“We've done it before, we can do it again,” says Coles. “We know we can do it now and there's no reason why we can't just progress from there.
“Obviously, you've got to be thinking you can go on and win the rest of the games in the group. It's nice to win after a couple of losses, but we've done our basics well and that's the main thing.”
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Coles is the consummate team man and plays down his part in the upturn that has raised optimism in and around the Essex camp that they can continue their achievement of qualifying from the group stage in each of the Royal London Cup's six years.
“It's a team thing, it's not about individuals,” he argues. “Yes, individual performances are part of it, but it's the boys working hard together rather than singling out certain people, certain performances. It's a team effort, we work as a team, and that has been proven to be the way to win games of cricket.
“Yes, it was nice to get a few wickets on Sunday after not playing for a while. But it probably should have been Sids [fellow seamer Peter Siddle] the way he bowled. He should have been in the wickets. But it's one of those things and you have to take your chances when they come.”
Coles's opportunities to hold down a regular first-team place since he moved to Chelmsford from Kent 18 months ago, have been blighted by a succession of injuries. “Look,” he says, “injuries come and go. Being a fast bowler, it's a hard job. You need to be 100 per cent fit to do what is after all an unnatural trade. Nobody wants injuries, nobody wants to worry about being a bit sore here and there, but it's part and parcel of the job. You've just got to get on with it.”
Luke Wright, Sussex's prolific England white-ball batsman, will provide a considerable challenge to Essex's hopes of avoiding a terminal slip-up today at The Cloudfm County Ground (11am start). He posted a List A career-best 166 at Lord's on Saturday, including nine sixes in a 142-ball innings. Coles, however, claimed his wicket in the corresponding game at Hove last season.
“I think it was a filthy long hop that was cut to point,” he recalls. “I can't say that's the best plan to go with – bowl one that gets lucky. Wrighty's a brilliant cricketer. You just have to try and keep him quiet for as long as possible, then hopefully he'll do something he doesn't really need to do. You have to be relentless and then hope the rest of the team in the field back you up like they did against Hampshire.
“Fingers crossed we can carry on from Sunday's win. We've got to take each moment as it comes and put in team performances that win games of cricket.”