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Champions Essex look to Cook up storm now Alastair's back for visit to Hampshire in County Championship Division One

PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 April 2018

Alastair Cook hits out as John Simpson looks on from behind the stumps during Essex's day-night match against Middlesex in June 2017 (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Alastair Cook hits out as John Simpson looks on from behind the stumps during Essex's day-night match against Middlesex in June 2017 (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Anthony McGrath's team got off the mark last weekend and will be boosted by the availability of an England legend this week

Alastair Cook arrives at the County Ground during Essex vs Lancashire to practise (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo).Alastair Cook arrives at the County Ground during Essex vs Lancashire to practise (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo).

Essex will be able to call upon Alastair Cook for their County Championship Division One match at Hampshire and it will no doubt boost their hopes of trying to start the new season with back-to-back victories.

After the opener at Yorkshire was a washout, the champions showed their class with a fine 31-run win over Lancashire at the County Ground last week.

Now Anthony McGrath’s side will have ex-England skipper Cook available for the trip to Ageas Bowl, starting tomorrow (Friday, 11am).

Jamie Porter, after a 9-80 match haul against Lancashire, praised the 33-year-old opener and is delighted to have him available for three weeks.

Last season’s leading wicket-taker said: “To have him for the Hampshire game and the two after (Yorkshire May 4-7 and Worcestershire May 11-14) is a massive boost.

“He is a great man to have around and his record speaks for itself.”

Essex bowler Jamie Porter (centre) celebrates taking the wicket of Lancashire's Alex Davies at the County Ground on April 22 (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo).Essex bowler Jamie Porter (centre) celebrates taking the wicket of Lancashire's Alex Davies at the County Ground on April 22 (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo).

Cook played seven league matches for Essex in 2017 and scored 667 runs at an average of 66.70, including 193 against Middlesex in June.

The left-hander did struggle with England over the winter and will aim to get among the runs again over the next few weeks with his county.

But Essex youngster Dan Lawrence admitted just having Cook around helps lift the team, even before he walks out to bat.

“It really is a big boost to have him available for these three games,” said Lawrence.

“Whenever he is here it is his presence. It is not even about if he does really well or not, just his presence and what he teaches you and the way he goes about things, you can learn so much from him.

“And whenever he has played in the past, he has usually scored a lot of runs, so hopefully he can score heavy again and help us win a few games.”

Essex had no trouble getting off the mark without Cook at the weekend as they managed to beat Lancashire inside three days at Chelmsford.

After batting first and being dismissed for 150, it looked like it would be a really tough game for Anthony McGrath’s men, but Porter’s 5-26 and Simon Harmer’s 5-46 bowled out the visitors for 144.

James Foster’s 69, along with 49s from Tom Westley and Harmer, helped Essex to 313 second time around and Lancashire were all out for 288 on Sunday evening with Porter (4-54) leading the way.

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