Alastair Cook will continue to play county cricket at the age of 38 after signing a new two-year contract with Essex.
Cook, England's all-time leading run-scorer in Test cricket and former captain, signed a three-year deal with Essex upon his retirement from the international game in 2018 and was a key player during their back-to-back red-ball titles in 2019 and 2020, the County Championship followed by the Bob Willis Trophy.
Cook had played down the prospect of an impending retirement at the start of the 2021 season but Essex endured their most turbulent summer in recent memory, failing to qualify for Division One of the Championship, and reports late in the season suggested that he was considering calling time on his career after a dispute with Ronnie Irani, a member of their board and the chair of their cricket committee.
But following Irani's departure from the club in mid-October and John Stephenson's appointment as chief executive, Cook has decided to play on, with Essex announcing on Tuesday that he had signed a contract for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.
Alastair Cook would like to address the Essex Members and supporters regarding his future... pic.twitter.com/ehKc6XhhRP— Essex Cricket (@EssexCricket) November 30, 2021
"I have really enjoyed my cricket here at Essex since my international retirement," Cook said. "We are lucky to have a fantastic dressing room and great coaching staff, led brilliantly by Anthony McGrath, and I'm looking forward to what is hopefully another successful couple of years."
McGrath, the club's head coach, said that Cook was "still one of the best batters in the world" and suggested that he would remain a key part of their plans in 50-over cricket, after a prolific Royal London Cup season in 2021.
"It's great news that Cooky has committed his future to the club," he said. "Alastair is still one of the best batters in the world and he's so important for us both on and off the field. He has the ability to take the game away from the opponents in both red-ball and white-ball cricket, and that's something every head coach wants in their team.
"He's also a great role model for the younger lads coming through and has a wealth of knowledge that all the players in our dressing room, including the senior pros, tap into from time to time."
Cook has scored 2237 first-class runs at an average of 45.65 since his international retirement, though he had a relatively lean 2021 summer by his own standards, making 611 Championship runs at 32.15 with only four scores of 50 or more.