Charl Willoughby joins to offer support to David Masters who took 93 wickets in Division 2 last season - both should prove excellent mentors for young tyros Tymal Mills and Reece Topley. Another acquisition is Alviro Petersen following his acrimonious departure from Glamorgan who will add steel to the batting line-up in the first part of the summer. James Foster is still the best keeper in the country and was also the County's leading run scorer in 2011. Ravi Bopara and Owais Shah add class to a batting line-up, which also features the promising Adam Wheater.
No-one reached 1,000 Championship runs last season and with Alastair Cook and Bopara lost to England, Shah to the IPL and Petersen to the South African tourists, a lot will once again depend on Foster. Tony Blair wouldn't approve of the distinct lack of spin. If Masters gets injured they could struggle to take wickets.
With apologies to Masters, the main man as ever at Chelmsford is the superlative James Foster - captain, keeper extraordinaire and a much better batsmen than many give him credit for - including sadly the England selectors over the last ten years.
Look out for
Changes to the breakfast menu at Chelmsford. After the Mervyn Westfield trail, Danish pastries are likely to have been removed from the menu.
4th - The two teams coming down from Division 1 look particularly strong so whilst Essex will improve on 2011 they will probably fall short of promotion.
2011 County Cricket Review: including Heroes of the Season, Best and Worst XIs, and a whole host of other nonsense
County Championship 2011 Preview - Essex
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