Essex's fine start to the Specsavers County Championship season – with comfortable home wins over Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire as well as a hard-fought draw away to recently-relegated Sussex – sees them sit top of Division Two as they head to fellow promotion hopefuls Worcestershire tomorrow.
Captain Ryan ten Doeschate, who says he "couldn't have asked for much more" from his team's start, believes their fine form is down to a number of factors, such as the luxury of being able to call on England captain Alastair Cook for the season's first four games, the 22 wickets already take by seamer Jamie Porter, and the immediate impact of a new coaching and leadership set-up.
Ten Doeschate is new to his role, while Tom Westley is vice-captain, and Chris Silverwood and Anthony McGrath have taken the helm on the coaching side.
"We are lucky to have lots of senior players around now, which helps when you have a new set-up," said ten Doeschate, "everyone has responded well to the new structures and how we are trying to play our cricket. The challenge is to sustain this momentum."
Ten Doeschate, who himself finished with figures of 4-31in Northamptonshire's second innings at Chelmsford, has been particularly delighted with the form of Porter, who has taken at least seven wickets in each of the three games so far.
"When you have someone like that who you can turn to, particularly with the new ball," he said, "it makes a massive difference. He will be a major part of how successful we can be this season. But it's not just him. Graham Napier has been phenomenal, so valuable with bat and ball. The ability to make 20 wickets is so important."
Cook, who has made two centuries and a 65 in the three matches, plays his last game before joining up with his England team for the series against Sri Lanka, and ten Doeschate was quick to praise his impact, but unworried about his absence in coming weeks.
"Cooky has been massive for us, getting at least one big score in every match so far," he says. "Hopefully he can contribute one more time. Worcestershire have come down, which makes it a big game for us.
"Jaik Mickleburgh has been in great form in pre-season and will probably come in in Cooky's place, but we couldn't be more grateful for what Cooky has done in these three weeks."
One player who will take the field at New Road is Ravi Bopara, who did not field after making 76 against Northamptonshire.
Having taken a bang to the knee while batting, Bopara watched the visitors' two innings from the Pavilion as a precaution.
"Ravi has taken a few knocks," said ten Doeschate. "There was one last week and then another in this game, a heavy blow on his knee. He will definitely play as a batter, we just need to decide if he can bowl, but I expect him to play and bowl next week."