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Picture: Record-breaking Cook signs autographs ahead of Bopara benefit match

Alastair Cook arrives at the County Ground. Credit: ITV News Anglia

England's new leading test run scorer Alastair Cook has been signing autographs ahead of taking part in a star-studded benefit match for his Essex teammate Ravi Bopara tonight.

The match will see Essex Eagles take on Ravi’s All Stars who will be led by Sri Lankan superstar Kumar Sangakkara.

Ravi Bopara has been at Essex since 2002. Credit: PA

Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi and Mahela Jayawardene will also feature at the County Ground, with the proceeds going towards five charities.

Bopara made his debut for Essex in 2002, and has played for the county ever since.

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Essex cricketer Jesse Ryder talks to ITV News Anglia

England's busy summer of test cricket gets underway on Thursday. Alastair Cook's side will do battle for the Ashes with Australia in July.

Before that though, a two test series with New Zealand. Keeping a close eye on how the Kiwis get on will be Essex overseas player Jesse Ryder.

Ryder is a player who's had his fair share of dramas on and off the field.

ITV News Anglia's Sports Correspondent Donovan Blake has been to meet him and you can see his report by clicking below

Essex Cricket Club record small loss as annual accounts are revealed

The County Ground in Chelmsford. Credit: PA

Essex County Cricket Club have revealed their annual accounts.

The club made a small loss of £82,000 last year, but 2015 is looking more positive after tickets for the Australia tour match in July virtually sold out.

The T20 Blast tickets also selling well.

"In financial terms, 2014 turned out to be very similar to the previous year. This is despite the team reaching two Quarter-Finals and the sterling efforts of our highly efficient and highly regarded commercial team.

In the first season of the new format for County Cricket, net ticket and hospitality income was up compared to the previous year. Again T20 matches provided the lion's share and it remains to be seen whether the Royal London One-Day Cup played in the height of summer attracts more spectators in 2015.

With the same format as 2014 continuing and with four days against the Australians, the budget for 2015 looks a little healthier."

– David Acfield, Club Treasurer

Northamptonshire secure signing of exciting all-rounder Afridi

Shahid Afridi has agreed to join Northamptonshire. Credit: PA

Northamptonshire have signed Pakistan big-hitter Shahid Afridi for the start of this season's T20 blast competition.

The all-rounder is one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket, and holds the record for the most sixes in the history of one-day internationals with 342.

The 34-year-old is also a more than capable leg spinner and has taken 81 wickets for his country in T20 internationals.

Afridi is one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket. Credit: PA

Afridi will be available for six of Northants' fixtures, starting with the trip to Durham on May 15.

“This is a very exciting signing for us. Shahid is without doubt the most outstanding spin bowling all-rounder in one day international cricket of the last 5 years.

He is a fierce competitor and undoubted match winner with bat and ball”.

– David Ripley, Northants head coach

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Alastair Cook: 'I'm gutted'

Alastair Cook says he is "gutted" to have been left out of England's World Cup squad.

The Essex cricketer and former Bedfordshire schoolboy has been replaced by Eoin Morgan as captain.

"I am gutted to be left out of the World Cup squad, and it is likely to take me a while to get over the disappointment.

"That said I wish Peter, Eoin and the lads all the best for the World Cup.

"I would also like to thank all the players and fans who have supported me during my time as one-day captain."

– Alastair Cook

Cook dropped as captain for cricket World Cup

Alastair Cook during a one-day international in May. Credit: Tony Marshall/PA Wire.

Essex cricketer Alastair Cook has been replaced as England's World Cup captain - and will not feature at all in the team's 15-man squad.

The England and Wales Cricket ball confirmed the change on Saturday morning.

It follows the 29-year-old's poor form in one-day internationals over the past year - and an equally poor performance by his team.

A statement from the ECB said:

"ECB today announced that Eoin Morgan has replaced Alastair Cook as England one-day captain with immediate effect.

"England selectors met yesterday to pick a 15-man one-day squad for the tour to Australia and the ICC Cricket World Cup.

"Selectors recommended to managing director England cricket Paul Downton a change in captaincy which has now been approved by the ECB chairman."

– England and Wales Cricket Board

The board is due to announce its squad at 11am on Saturday.

Former Bedfordshire schoolboy Cook, who will turn 30 on Christmas Day, will continue as England Test captain.

Local clubs back Michael Vaughan's cricket 'FA Cup' proposal

Michael Vaughan wants to see a Twenty20 version of the FA Cup. Credit: PA

Cricket clubs in the region have given a cautious welcome to proposals for a domestic competition modelled on football's FA Cup.

The idea is the brainchild of former England captain Michael Vaughan.

He wants the English Cricket Board to consider a national Twenty20 knock-out cup featuring club sides, minor counties and universities, with professional counties like Northamptonshire and Essex entering in the latter stages.

Chris Scott, the Cambridge MCCU Head Coach. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"I think it could reignite amateur cricket, and I think when amateur cricket and professional cricket can work together in certain competitions, I think it's a good thing.

It gives people a dream."

– Chris Scott, Cambridge MCCU Head Coach

Essex spinner Tim Phillips announces his retirement

Tim Phillips has announced his retirement. Credit: PA

Essex spinner Tim Phillips has announced his retirement from cricket with immediate effect.

The 33-year-old has played for the county since 1999, and has predominantly been used in the limited overs form of the game in recent years.

“I have enjoyed my career and the friendships I have made during my 16 years representing Essex CCC but I am really excited to start a new challenge.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish the club all the best for the future.”

– Tim Phillips, former Essex cricketer
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