Essex star prepares for Lord's clash
While Essex star Alastair Cook fights for test form as England cricket captain, there's pressure of a different kind for his county club.
West Indies star Brian Lara will play against Hertfordshire on Sunday in a special match at Lord's, but it could have been very different...
Alastair Cook has vowed to stay on as England captain, despite his team slipping to yet another defeat against India at Lord's.
The Essex star has been heavily criticised by pundits and fans alike following a disastrous run of ten tests without a win.
England's last ten test results
- England v Australia (The Oval) - Match drawn (Aug 13)
- Australia v England (Brisbane) - Australia won by 381 runs (Nov 13)
- Australia v England (Adelaide) - Australia won by 218 runs (Dec 13)
- Australia v England (Perth) - Australia won by 150 runs (Dec 13)
- Australia v England (Melbourne) - Australia won by 8 wickets (Dec 13)
- Australia v England (Sydney) - Australia won by 281 runs (Jan 14)
- England v Sri Lanka (Lord's) - Match drawn (June 14)
- England v Sri Lanka (Leeds) - Sri Lanka won by 100 runs (June 14)
- England v India (Nottingham) - Match drawn (July 14)
- England v India (Lord's) - India won by 95 runs (July 14)
Cook's own form with the bat has suffered as well, with the 29-year-old having not hit a century in over a year.
Despite the poor sequence of results, Cook says he won't be standing down any time soon.
– Alastair Cook, England captain
"It gets harder and harder the more we don't win, and of course it all heaps on me.
But until that bloke taps me on the shoulder and says we don't want you to be captain, I'm desperate to try and turn this around for England.
If I'm not good enough at the end of the summer, then so be it, but I am trying my heart out to do this."
Alastair Cook's future as England captain could be in doubt after the Essex star failed once again with the bat.
The 29-year-old could only manage 22 in his second innings against India, to follow-up a score of 10 in his first knock.
It means that Cook now hasn't hit a century in 27 test innings, and his captaincy credentials have also come into question.
Cook's woes with the bat
- Cook's last century was against New Zealand in May 2013. He hit 130 at Headingley.
- Since then, he's averaged just over 24.
With England on 105-4 going into the final day at Lord's, and chasing an unlikely target of 319 to win, a ninth consecutive test without a win looks a real possibility.
Many pundits now think that enough in enough, including former skipper Michael Vaughan who told The Telegraph that taking the captaincy away from Cook could help to revitalise his career.
– Michael Vaughan
"We have reached the stage with Cook when he cannot be enjoying cricket. You don’t when you are not playing well and the team is struggling.
It is easy for the England and Wales Cricket Board to say it is going to stick by him but it has to ask what is best for the team and for Cook.
The ECB has a responsibility to Cook the person to do the right thing and if that means taking the captaincy away then so be it."
Cook can only sit and hope that the rest of the England batsmen can get him out of jail today, but anything less than a win would surely lead to serious questions about his fate.
When Hertfordshire's cricketers stepped out to play at Lord's in 1814, who'd have thought the club would be deeply rooted in the stadium's rich history.
Their match with the MCC will be commemorated on Sunday, 200 years to the day since they first played.
The current Hertfordshire side will face one of cricket's legends - former West Indies captain Brian Lara, who's world record innings of 501 runs still stands.
Click below to watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Donovan Blake
Essex fast bowler Reece Topley has signed a contract extension.
The 20-year-old will now stay with the county until the end of the 2015 season.
Topley took over 80 wickets in an impressive 2013 campaign, and was nominated for the Professional Cricketers' Association Young Player of the Year award.
“I am delighted to sign an extension to my contract with Essex as I have been at the club since I was nine-years-old and continue to really enjoy my cricket here at Chelmsford," Topley told the club's official website.
“First Division cricket is extremely important both to me and the club, and I hope I can assist Essex in gaining promotion and also winning One-Day trophies.”
Northamptonshire have signed New Zealand international bowlers Ian Butler and Neil Wagner.
Both players have signed from Cricket Otago in their native country.
Butler joins the county straight away, and will stay until late July.
The 32-year-old has previously played for Nottinghamshire and Gloucestershire.
Meanwhile, Wagner will arrive for the final five LV= County Championship matches of the campaign.
He enjoyed a good series against England last year, and will join up with his new teammates after the Blackcaps tour to the West Indies.
Alastair Cook is confident he has the full support of the new-look England set-up, having questioned his position as captain after the Ashes.
The Essex star said: "I was asked about (my future) after Sydney and after a long, gruelling winter, I gave it consideration," he said. "I think it would be wrong if I didn't.
"If you don't question your position as leader then, you never will."
"The ECB, since Paul Downton's come in, they've backed me and we've got to justify that confidence"
He said: "It was nice that the guys I spoke to, other members of the side, were very supportive and that's good to hear. I spoke to Stuart Broad and others and they said 'no, you must carry on'."
Former Essex and Pakistan cricketer Danish Kaneria has lost a High Court fight with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
The player was given a life ban after a disciplinary panel concluded that he had encouraged a team-mate to under-perform - by deliberately conceding runs - during a limited overs game against Durham in 2009 and brought cricket into disrepute.
The decision was upheld by an appeal panel in 2013.
But Kaneria decided to take High Court action - claiming that the ECB appeal panel had been wrong to uphold the life ban and wrong to order him to pay ECB legal costs of £200,000.
Today a High Court judge dismissed those claims at a hearing in London.
Mr Justice Hamblen said the appeal panel had not exceeded its powers and there were no grounds for suggesting an error of law had been made.