County cricket April 26, 2008

ECB allows Cook to play Essex one-day fixture

Cricinfo staff

Alastair Cook, the England opener, has been made available for Essex' s match against Sussex in the Friends Provident Trophy on April 27. Essex have expressed relief at the ECB's decision to allow Cook be available before the New Zealand series starts after a reported incident between Andy Flower and board members.

Flower, the England batting coach, was apparently at a loss for words to explain Cook's absence from limited-overs cricket. Essex had already been left dismayed that Cook was made available for a tour match against the New Zealanders but not for their one-day fixtures and it took some urging from Graham Gooch, the Essex batting coach, before the ECB reconsidered.

"The only way to improve in one-day cricket is to be exposed to more Alastair matches," Gooch told the Times. "The more you play, the more experience you get and the more influence you can have on games. Alastair has been a very influential player when he has played for Essex."

England host New Zealand for Tests and one-day internationals without a break between the two and Warwickshire will not request the same for Ian Bell, the only England contracted player not involved in one-day cricket for his county, after he opted out of limited-over matches. "The player doesn't want to play and that's the end of it," Ashley Giles, the Warwickshire director of cricket and an England selector, told The Birmingham Post.

Like Cook, Bell has been made available for the tour match and County Championship matches but not for one-day fixtures. Hampshire's Kevin Pietersen will turn out for Friends Provident matches but in only one championship game.