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Essex begin period without injured Bopara

Essex Eagles must make do without star all-rounder Ravi Bopara for the first time since he suffered a side strain when they face Middlesex Panthers in the Friends Life t20 this evening at Chelmsford.

The England international has been ruled out for up to six weeks and batsman Mark Pettini has been sidelined for two to four weeks with a quad injury. Tom Westley (broken finger) and David Masters (Achilles) are still missing but Tymal Mills is available after a hamstring injury.

Essex head coach Paul Grayson is optimistic that the Eagles, who are third in the South Group after back-to-back wins over Kent Spitfires, can cover for the absence of Bopara and Co.

Grayson said: "Greg Smith did a good job as opener at Canterbury and we'll move Ryan ten Doeschate and James Foster up one place in the order.

"We are not short of quality players and it's just one more opportunity for the lads in the squad to show their character, as they've already done on previous occasions this year.”

Essex have a point to prove, having lost to today’s second-placed opponents - still missing Eoin Morgan who suffered a broken finger last month - by seven wickets in the corresponding fixture.

“We played some good cricket against Middlesex Panthers at times and it was a bit disappointing that we were unable to defend a score of 170,” Grayson added.

Holders Hampshire Royals, who sit fourth, have named an unchanged squad for the visit of fifth-placed Sussex Sharks to the Ageas Bowl whose largest crowd for a domestic game in four years is expected. Sussex’s Lewis Hatchett is injured so James Anyon comes into their contingent.

Midlands, Wales & West Group leaders Glamorgan have again announced an unchanged party to take on third-placed Somerset at the SWALEC Stadium when one 100 per cent record will end.

Somerset, who have played a game less than their opponents’ three, have added spinner George Dockrell to their squad after his return from Ireland duty and have Alviro Petersen available for the last time before he departs for South Africa’s tour of Sri Lanka.

The division’s bottom two teams, Worcestershire Royals and winless Warwickshire Bears, meet in a sold-out match at New Road. Warwickshire’s latest injury victim is Chris Wright, who has a back strain, but they have Will Porterfield back from Ireland action. Varun Chopra continues to lead the Bears in Jim Troughton’s absence.

North Group front-runners Notts Outlaws will seek to make it five wins from five when they face fifth-placed Leicestershire Foxes at Grace Road.

Leicestershire welcome back Niall O’Brien from Ireland duty and include Alex Wyatt in their squad. Matthew Hoggard and Robbie Williams are injured.

Derbyshire Falcons and Lancashire Lightning, who respectively sit immediately behind Notts, clash at Emirates Old Trafford.

The returning Simon Kerrigan replaces the injured Stephen Parry in Lancashire’s squad. Despite being away from home, Derbyshire have named a 15-man party.

Bottom side Durham Dynamos and fourth-placed Yorkshire Vikings are missing their skippers for the fixture at the Emirates Durham ICG.

Durham will continue to be led by Mark Stoneman while Paul Collingwood recovers from a broken hand and Azeem Rafiq again captains Yorkshire as Andrew Gale is sidelined with a broken hand.

Although Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan did not make England’s Test XI at Trent Bridge, they are unavailable to their counties.

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