The much-anticipated early-season match-up between Alastair Cook and James Anderson has been scrubbed with Cook, the former England captain, out of Essex's opening Specsavers County Championship match against Lancashire with a hip problem.
A scan on Cook's left hip has ruled out a serious injury but he will undergo an injection to try and ease the problem he has been managing for "several weeks" according to an ECB statement and will therefore sit out the first round of the Championship.
The match against Lancashire would have been Cook's first first-class outing since the Test series against India in December after which he stepped down as England's Test captain in January.
"Alastair Cook will miss Essex's opening Championship fixture against Lancashire starting this Friday due to left hip soreness," a statement said. "Cook has been receiving treatment for the problem for several weeks. A scan this week has ruled out serious injury, but he will undertake an injection in the upcoming days to help settle his symptoms. Cook will continue his rehab with the Essex medical team."
Earlier this week, Cook spoke to ESPNcricinfo about the transition from being a captain back to a player and said it was taking some adjusting to. "I won't miss going into all the extra press conferences, he said. "But being at the centre of it, being involved in a lot of decision-making, was the excitement of the job. Not doing that any more, will probably take a while to get used to.
"Ultimately I know it was the right decision for myself and the team but that doesn't make it any easier. It has been time to move on as a person and a player."
He added that he was eager to return to the middle for Essex ahead of the resumption of England's Test cricket in July when they face South Africa. "It's the next phase of my career," he said. "I've really enjoyed playing for Essex in pre-season and that's the most important thing. I'm refreshed and raring to go. It's time to move on."