Mark Robinson believes his side felt the full effect of an ongoing busy summer as Essex clinched a nine-wicket victory at Chelmsford.
Heading to the South East on the back of a gruelling, but successful T20 run, the Bears endured an opening day 227-run partnership between Dan Lawrence and Tom Westley, giving the home side all the momentum.
The Bears battled throughout and were led by from the performances of the young batters in the second innings, but it was one step too far against an experienced side, which included Simon Harmer.
“It’s probably been a game too far for us in terms of the travel, schedule and the heat,” said the First Team Coach. “We were disappointed with yesterday (Monday), Harmer bowled well, but we want to show more resilience and skill than that.
“But what we’ve banked today is some brilliant learning for our three young batters – Jacob Bethell, Dan Mousley and Rob Yates – to play on a wicket like that against the best spinner in the country. They’ll get a lot from that.
“We caught Essex a bit tired at the end today, but we’ve been on the other end of that in this. We tried to extend the game as long as we can, because you just never know. We gave Surrey a good run and in every other game we’ve dominated. This is the first time we’ve been soundly beaten and it feels like we’ve played Harmer, Westley and Lawrence throughout.”
The Bears will get limited rest as the Vitality Blast group schedule comes to a close.
Having already qualified and needing just one point for a home quarter-final, Alex Davies’ side face Notts Outlaws at Trent Bridge on Friday and return to Edgbaston on Sunday to play Durham.
It will be another test for a Bears squad that feels like it’s in ‘Emergency Ward 10’.
“We’ve got a few knocks, especially with T20 as they’re physical games,” Robinson added. “We’re not the only team in this position but it’s brutal. This was a game where we’d like to have had a bit more prep time with the uniqueness of the conditions and wicket. We’ll bank that experience, rally and say goodbye to Hassan who has played his final red ball game.
“Danny Briggs is out for a while and could be four to six weeks. We don’t know if Sam Hain will be fit for the weekend, but he should be ready for the quarter-final and Kent.
“We’re having to manage Jacob Bethell’s workload and get him to a quieter spot in the field with the stress fracture he’s got in the back, which limits his practice and restricts him from bowling. Craig Miles is six to eight weeks away and we’re hoping Liam Norwell will be fit for the final run-in of four championship games.
“Hopefully, we’ll have some of them back for the next Championship game because of the moment it looks like Emergency Ward 10.”
£15 tickets for home quarter-final
Bears have secured a home Vitality Blast quarter-final which will be on Thursday 6 July, with adult tickets only £15.
Tickets ware available online at tickets.edgbaston.com or on the day via the Ticket Office. Members and Season Pass holders can attend for free by scanning their card at the gate.