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Cook returns for Essex in key battle

PUBLISHED: 16:15 22 August 2016

England Test captain Alastair Cook returns to action for Essex in their county championship clash at Leicestershire (pic: John Walton/PA)

England Test captain Alastair Cook returns to action for Essex in their county championship clash at Leicestershire (pic: John Walton/PA)

PA/Press Association Images

England Test captain in squad to face Leicestershire

England Test captain Alastair Cook makes his return to County Championship action for Essex in their vital promotion clash with Leicestershire at Grace Road which starts tomorrow (Tuesday).

The opener has made five appearances for the county this year in the competition, three of which ended in victories, and despite his restricted appearances, the left-hander has played a major role in the club’s success in red-ball cricket this summer.

Left-hander Cook has accumulated 573 Championship runs, including three centuries and one half-century, to post an incredible average of 114.60.

Essex top the Division Two table with 171 points and have an advantage of 23 points over the second-placed Foxes, with Kent one point further adrift.

The three teams each have just four matches remaining as they pursue the one promotion place available.

However, Leicestershire are expected to provide formidable opposition as the race for promotion hots up having beaten Essex by four wickets at Chelmsford in a low-scoring affair in mid-June.

That was one of just two defeats for Ryan ten Doeschate’s men in the competition this summer and they have won two and drawn one of their four matches since.

Essex’s latest success was achieved by an innings and 62 runs at Derby last week when Nick Browne hit an unbeaten 229 to take his tally of Championship runs to 956 this campaign.

Tom Westley has accrued 925 runs so far and Graham Napier claimed eight wickets against Derbyshire to go to Grace Road with 51 Championship wickets this season, 10 more than colleague Jamie Porter.

Leicestershire also have players who have performed prominently in the Championship this year with Mark Cosgrove scoring 925 runs so far, while pace bowler Clint McKay needs four more wickets to reach 50 victims.

Head coach Chris Silverwood has named a 13-man squad, with Dan Lawrence returning after makinggood progress from a hamstring injury sustained earlier this month and Paul Walter retaining his place after an impressive first-class debut performance that saw him score 47 runs and take four wickets at Derby.

Ten Doeschate is looking for his side to maintain the level of performance that saw them complete that comprehensive success over Derbyshire and said: “Everyone knows how hard it has been to achieve victories in this division this year so it was very encouraging to get our fourth win.

“We go into our final four matches at the top of the division and everyone in this squad is desperate for us to achieve promotion. With only one team promoted this time, it does bring extra pressure and although it is a tough ask, I believe that it is an achievable goal.

“We aren’t thinking about how many wins we need or how many points we might need, we’ll just go out and play our best cricket and if we end up at the top of the division and secure promotion, then that will be fantastic and well-deserved.”

Essex squad: Ryan ten Doeschate; James Foster; David Masters; Nick Browne; Graham Napier; Tom Westley; Paul Walter; Ravi Bopara; Alastair Cook; Dan Lawrence; Jamie Porter; Ashar Zaidi; Will Rhodes.

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