COLCHESTER and East Essex’s cricketers have a great chance to showcase their skills against some of the best teams in the county, this season.

That is the view of the club’s director of cricket Julian Russell, who says the Castle Park outfit are relishing the prospect of playing another season in the top flight of the Hamro Foundation Essex League.

Colchester begin a brand new premier division campaign on Saturday when they travel to play Chelmsford, at Chelmer Park (12.30pm start).

Russell said: “We’re realistic that there are some strong clubs in that division.

“But every time we play against any of the teams in the premier division, it’s a chance for us to show what we’ve got particularly against those teams who have competed for the title in the last couple of years.

“It’s our chance to show what we’ve got against them.

“We’re looking forward as a club to putting a marker down but also seeing the individual development of our players, to see them shape up for the battles against some of the best club players and to be offering them the best environment to succeed, on the field.”

Colchester were beaten in the Dukes Essex League Cup at Chelmsford, last Saturday.

The hosts made 300 for two in the first-round match at Chelmer Park and Colchester could only manage 191 in reply, with Joe MacGregor (73) and Jack Hobbs (37) their top scorers.

Colchester’s second XI (150) were also defeated by their Chelmsford counterparts (342 for four).

However, Colchester (249 for nine) beat Springfield (176) in North Essex Cricket League division one.

Colchester and East Essex always welcome new players, at both senior and junior level.

“We’d love to share that excitement and get people involved, whoever they are,” said Russell.

“Our aim is to get to a stage where we can enter a third team into a competitive league, hopefully as soon as next season.

“But we need the player base to do that – lots of clubs probably find the same.

“We’ve got more than enough players in July and August but in that early part of the season, we’d probably be scrambling around in the early weeks to get a third team in and it’s an area for us to prioritise.

“We also have the Sunday team and the midweek T20s as well, so there’s certainly cricket for a range of abilities and opportunities for people to get involved.”

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