The news that Essex favourite Ryan ten Doeschate has decided to retire from the game was hardly unexpected given that the all-rounder is now 41 years of age, but the confirmation that this will be his final season in an Essex sweater will be sadly felt by Essex supporters and cricket lovers alike around the country.

Upon confirming his retirement from playing retirement, he said: “From the bottom of my heart I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved with Essex during my time at the Club.

“It’s been the greatest professional experience to grow in this environment, to watch the organisation and the individuals within it evolve and become something that I am extremely proud to have been a part of.

“Coming from Cape Town, to be given a chance to pursue my dream seems a million moons ago.

East London Advertiser: Ryan ten Doeschate of Essex hits out against Warwickshire at EdgbastonRyan ten Doeschate of Essex hits out against Warwickshire at Edgbaston (Image: ©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468)

"We’ve shared some remarkable times but for me, the biggest achievement has been making a home away from home.

"I have a collection of memories from Chelmsford to keep me happy long into retirement.”

England and Essex batsman Alastair Cook has played alongside ten Doeschate for almost two decades since both appeared in an Essex team for the first time in September 2003.

He paid this tribute to his county colleague.

“Ryan has been a phenomenal servant to the club and words like legend and a great for the club can be overused but in this case that isn’t so,” he insisted.

“He is a true legend of Essex and he will go down in history as one of Essex’s great players and great leaders of the club.

"To win the Championship after having to wait 25 years under his leadership and with Chris Silverwood and Anthony McGrath changing the direction of the club, he should take a lot of the credit.

“He won’t like taking the credit and all the plaudits that he deserves because that is not the way he is, but I hope he realises how proud he should be of his Essex and international career and all that he has done for Essex.

“I always found it very interesting during my time as England captain to come back to county cricket and watch Ryan leading the side. I was always there with an idea if he needed it but careful not to tread on his toes.

"Hopefully we will get a lot more success over the next few years and he can sit back wearing his slippers and smoking his pipe and know that he has been a big part of that success.”

It was back in 2003 that ten Doeschate joined Essex after impressing Graham Gooch during a practice match back in his native South Africa and he readily accepted an offer from the Essex legend to join the county.

Born in Port Elizabeth, the first appearance for Essex of this fiercely-competitive player came in their inaugural T20 match against Surrey in June 2003 before he made his maiden first-class appearance a month later against Lancashire.

He was regarded more as a bowler in those early days and batted at number 10 in that first match scoring 6 and 5 whilst returning 0-27 and 0-42 with the ball.

But he soon rose up the order and his superb talent soon became evident with the highly-rated all-rounder making 554 appearances across all formats for the club over his 19 seasons at Chelmsford, scoring 17,046 runs and taking 348 wickets.

His Dutch ancestry saw him gain regular international recognition for the Netherlands whilst he also enjoyed selection for various teams across the globe particularly in T20 cricket including stints in the Indian Premier League and Big Bash.

He figured in successful Essex one-day teams that captured the totesport League in 2005 and 2006 and won the 2008 Friends Provident Trophy Final at Lord’s.

His list of county honours continued when he was appointed captain in 2016 and was immediately successful steering Essex to the Division Two title that year and their place back in the top-flight of the County Championship.

Incredibly, he guided the team to their first County Championship title in 25 years when they were crowned Champions in 2017, a feat they were to repeat two years later.

Anthony McGrath, who was assistant to Chris Silverwood before taking over as Head Coach in 2018 said: “The plaudits have been coming in since the new of Ryan’s retirement was announced and rightly so.

“He’s a magnificent guy who has given the club magnificent service and his record speaks for itself.

"You never hear a bad word spoken about him and he’ll rightly join the list of distinguished players who have served the club down the years.

“He has always been highly regarded and has also been a fine ambassador for both Essex and himself in the way he has conducted himself and gone about his cricket.

“When someone like him retires, it always leaves a big void to fill. In the past few years, we’ve wo some trophies and enjoyed lots of successful days and Ryan has been a huge part of that.

“Hopefully the work he has put in, the foundation and the standards he’s set down will be continued.”

Ten Doeschate handed over the captaincy to his close friend Tom Westley ahead of the 2020 season but continued to prove a successful and highly-valued member of both the red-ball and white-ball teams as illustrated by being an integral player in the side that won the Bob Willis Trophy in 2020.

He leaves a memorable legacy and will be sorely missed.