This success has been built on the performances of a handful of individuals. Danish Kaneria’s 75 wickets from only 11 matches were the most taken in either division, whilst the batting relied on the middle order of Matt Walker, Ryan ten Doeschate and James Foster, who was again voted player of the season.
David Masters did a steady job as leading seamer, but the rest of the bowling, like the opening batting, was a disappointment. Varun Chopra was a revelation in limited overs cricket but short of four-day runs. Jason Gallian slipped into retirement and Billy Godleman did not feature after arriving from Middlesex.
John Maunders did just about enough to earn another deal, but most hope lies with Tom Westley, who stroked his first ton for the county in the final match at Derbyshire. He will get a good run in the side next season, although Ravi Bopara and perhaps even Alastair Cook will return from the national set-up.
Essex were ‘nearly men’ in coloured clothing, reaching the Friends Provident quarter finals and finishing two points drift of Pro40 Division One winners Sussex. The Eagles just missed out on qualification from the Twenty20 Cup South division, the perennial ‘group of death’.
This represented a welcome change for a team used to near misses in the battle for division one promotion, but it remains to be seen whether Essex have the strength to be competitive in the top tier. The prospective loss of Kaneria does not bear thinking about and the acquisition of a fast bowler is vital.