Essex Eagles fans can start getting excited for the new season after the T20 Blast fixtures for 2018 were announced.

The County Championship title holders will begin their 20-over season against Sussex Sharks on Wednesday, July 4 with all 14 games coming in a six-week spell.

Essex conclude their season against Middlesex and Kent Spitfires, with the final match at the Essex County Ground.

And new head coach Anthony McGrath is excited at the prospect of another exciting white ball campaign - despite a disappointing year last season.

And he says he is targeting a more positive run in the explosive form of the game.

“Whatever competition you enter you enter it to win and you build a squad for that,” he said. “You have got to dream and believe if you want to achieve. We will have different challenges but our job is to win and if you win enough you will win competitions.

“Last year the T20 was not so good but we are always exciting to watch and that will continue to be the case.”

Despite a fine season in the four-day format, Essex failed to impress in the T20 Blast.

Just five wins in their 14 matches saw them finish second from bottom in the southern group.

One of those defeats came against opening day opponents Sussex, who won by 11 runs in Chelmsford despite Varun Chopra’s excellent 116 in 59 balls.

Essex T20 Blast fixtures: Wednesday July 4, Sussex Sharks (H); Friday, July 6, Middlesex (H); Thursday, July 12, Surrey (A); Friday, July 13, Glamorgan (H); Friday, July 20, Gloucestershire (A); Saturday, July 21, Hampshire (H); Thursday, August 2, Kent Spitfires (A); Friday August 3, Somerset (A); Sunday, August 5, Surrey (H); Tuesday, August 7, Glamorgan (A); Friday, August 10, Gloucestershire (H); Sunday, August 12, Hampshire (A); Thursday, August 16, Middlesex (A); Friday, August 17, Kent Spitfires (H)