Essex hopeful Alastair Cook will sign new deal after "very encouraging" talks

Essex's chief executive John Stephenson is confident that former England captain Sir Alastair Cook will sign a new contract with the county.

Cook has spent his entire career at Essex after making his first-team debut back in 2003 and has continued to play for the club following his international retirement in 2018.

The 36-year-old signed a three-year deal with Essex after stepping away from England duty but that contract came to an end in September.

Essex are keen to get the opener to re-sign, with Stephenson telling BBC Essex that he is "very encouraged" by the ongoing talks.

"I'm really hoping within the next couple of weeks we'll have some good news," he said.

"He's got a lot of stuff going on in his life, other stuff he wants to get on with, but also he loves playing for the club, he loves Essex County Cricket Club.

"I'm going to have a few chats with him, talk about his future, but I'm very encouraged by what he's saying to me."

In the County Championship last season, Cook scored 611 runs at an average of 32.15 and made two hundreds as Essex won the Division Two title.

He also featured in the Royal London One Day Cup, scoring 455 runs at an average of 56.87, ending the competition as the third-highest run scorer.

"We know the cricket he's been playing over the past couple of years has been mainly red-ball but he did brilliantly in our 50-over team this summer," Stephenson said.

"He's absolutely essential to the future of the club, both on and off the field, and the more of Alastair Cook we see the better."

Reports emerged back in August claiming that Cook was one of a number of senior players who were unhappy with Ronnie Irani's involvement with the club.

It was reported that Irani left his role as Chairman of the Cricket Committee at Essex because of the dispute but he remained on the board, leading to claims in September that Cook could quit Essex as a result.

Irani has since stepped down from the Essex board, seemingly signalling the end of his influence at the club and paving the way for Cook to re-sign.

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