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“When Cookie’s available to play for Essex he is obviously picked automatically, but this can often result in a youngster being dropped for a week or two.”

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Despite another County Championship draw due to the weather with Kent and a bit of limp loss against Worcestershire, there was a least one sight that gets any Eagles fan excited that occurred recently.

That was of course Alastair Cook back in an Essex shirt. The current England ODI captain showed some of his fantastic International batting form by scoring 47 in the CB40 game with Worcestershire. Cookie’s Essex return was only brief however as he is back with the England Test squad preparing for the first Windies Test match. Cookie’s situation does raise a interesting talking point; England Internationals are the best players in the country, but with their central contracts, do you really want them playing for your county?

Excellent players like Cook can only actually play a handful of games due to their England commitments and the amount of international cricket played. When Cookie’s available to play for Essex he is obviously picked automatically, but this can often result in a youngster being dropped for a week or two.

Therefore, there is the argument that for a County team to succeed consistently they need to only have one, maybe two, top class International players. Personally, I think Essex have constructed the perfect blend of players. Looking at the current squad, aside from Cookie, only our latest signing Alviro Petersen won’t be able to play the whole season. Alviro is contracted until the 6th June (just before the Northants game) before he leaves to prepare with South Africa for the summer Test series against England.

Our only other international players include Ravi Bopara (who is always going to be on the fringes of the England set-up and able to play the majority of the Essex games), Ryan Ten Doeschate (with the Netherlands playing counties games now he seems to be solely an Essex player) as well as Jimmy Foster and Owais Shah (both whom seem to be on International “hiatus”).

World-class International players, such as Cookie, are always key and important to any county teams success but reliance on them is not the way to go. These “worldies”

aren’t always going to be available consistently and a focus on youngsters is more important.

Players in particular like Wheater, Westley, Mickleburgh, Godleman, Craddock, Topley, Mills and Foakes (congrats is due to him after making his debut in the Leicestershire game this week!) are the future of Essex. These players, combined with the fleeting brilliance of Cookie, should only lead to a bright future...any trophies, lots and lots of trophies please!

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