Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara can help Essex reach T20 semis

Essex batsman Ravi Bopara

Essex head coach Paul Grayson believes the return of Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara could be the difference in their FL t20 quarter-final against Somerset.

The pair are expected to return for Tuesday's game at Taunton after playing in the first Test against South Africa.

"Our top seven or eight is as strong as any in the country with those two back in the side," Grayson told BBC Essex.

"We respect Somerset, but we certainly don't fear them and it's a game we're looking forward to enormously."

Essex last won through to finals day in 2010 - and Grayson knows his side will have their work cut out against a Somerset side buoyed by the recent return of skipper Marcus Trescothick following ankle surgery.

But they can draw on the memory of last summer's 65-run win at Bath in the same competition, a match in which they piled up 209-5 in their 20 overs, with Mark Pettini and Bopara sharing a stand of 108.

"Trescothick's hardly played any cricket," said Grayson.

"He's a wonderful player, probably the best player in county cricket in the last 10 years, but we got him out first ball at Bath last year and he will be a little bit rusty.

"It doesn't matter how good a player you are, you do need a little bit of time to get back into the game so we'll be targeting him and we know that if you can get Trescothick out early, it sends a bit of a panic signal through their dressing room, so that'll be our plan."

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