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...
While there's little joy to be found from England's winter, in the domestic game Northamptonshire have plenty to look forward to.
But they have been dealt an early blow with South African bowler Rory Kleinveldt forced out of his overseas player contract because of injury - the latest in a long line. But that apart, they're in good spirits, as Jim Rice reports.
Click below to watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Jim Rice
Former Essex and Pakistan cricketer Danish Kaneria, who was given a life ban after a disciplinary panel concluded that he encouraged a team-mate to under-perform, is involved in legal action with the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
A High Court judge heard detail of his case at a behind-closed-doors hearing in London.
Mr Justice Andrew Smith said before the hearing that he was examining an issue arising from arbitration between Kaneria and the ECB. He said issues arising from arbitration were normally discussed in private.
No detail of any claim was aired in public.
The ECB charged Kaneria with inducing anther Essex player to "deliberately concede" runs in a limited overs game against Durham in 2009 and with bringing cricket into disrepute.
A disciplinary panel found that charges had been proved after a hearing in 2012. An appeal upheld the decision to impose a life ban in 2013
The squad for the annual match between the MCC and the county Champions has been announced.
Essex bowler Monty Panesar will be a part of the MCC squad to face Durham next month.
The spinner could play alongside India batsman Virender Sehwag who is captaining the side.
Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara has been named in both England's World Twenty20 squad and the one-day party to tour the West Indies.
England travel to the Caribbean to play three ODIs and three Twenty20 matches in early March, before heading to Bangladesh to take part in the World T20 tournament soon after.
England captain Alastair Cook breathed a sigh of relief after watching his side clinch a 57-run victory over Australia in the fourth one-day international in Perth.
England risked losing a 10th straight match on their tour Down Under but instead triumphed for the first time after 91 miserable days as Australia failed to score the required 317 runs at the WACA.
Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes were Cook's key men, the former scoring 71 runs off 43 balls while the latter excelled with bat and ball, adding 70 runs and taking four wickets.
He told Sky Sports: "It's been a while since we've had this feeling and a couple of dropped catches at the end just made us wait a little longer.
"But all in all it was a pretty good performance.
"It's been a frustrating tour, we've played a long way below our potential. Then you see glimpses like today where we know the standard we can play to, so we know it's there."
Essex have announced that England cricketer Ravi Bopara has signed a new one-year contract with the club.
28-year-old Bopara has been with Essex since 2002, and has played nearly 150 First-Class matches for the county.
The all-rounder's new deal will run until the end of the 2014 season, and Bopara says that he is happy to be staying with the club:
“I am delighted to have signed a new contract with the club for a further year," he told the Essex official website.
"I was pleased with how my season went in 2013 both domestically and Internationally for Essex and England, respectively.
"I am now looking to continue this form into the new season with Essex where we can hopefully win some silverware.”
The Ashes score made for unpleasant Breakfast reading this morning.
England failed to capitalise on their promising start yesterday, with Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin both making centuries, before Australia declared on 570-9.
England's reply was less than confidence building, with Essex batsman Alastair Cook being clean bowled by Mitchell Johnson for just 3.
However, Michael Carberry and Joe Root steadied the ship to some extent to guide England to 35-1 at the close of the play, but which ever way you look at it, Cook and his team now have a mountain to climb to save this Test and perhaps the series.
Cricket Australia have apologised for any offence caused by an ill-judged tweet about Essex spin bowler Monty Panesar.
The tweet featured four men, apparently Sikhs, dressed as Teletubbies.
Cricket Australia have now removed the tweet.
Meanwhile, Panesar, a surprise recall to the team, responded with a wicket in the first day of the second test in Adelaide.
He dismissed batsman Steven Smith, but also dropped a catch.
Australia will resume day 2 on 273-5.