Essex have confirmed the departure of head coach Paul Grayson, ending weeks of speculation over his position at the club.
It brings to an end a 19-year association with the club and follows another season where Essex have failed to secure promotion in the County Championship and went out of both limited-overs competitions at the quarter-final stage.
Two weeks ago Grayson had been given the backing of the club until the end of the season - following a recommendation from Ronnie Irani, the new cricket chairman, that he be removed immediately.
Defeat to Yorkshire last week in the Royal London Cup quarter-final hastened his departure although a club statement said the decision was by "mutual consent." It is understood he has not worked with the team since the quarter-final and handed in his resignation on Friday, feeling that his position had become untenable
Grayson has left one year into an official three-year plan which made clear that the priority was to secure a one-day trophy and rebuild a young Championship team based on home grown talent. One of those young players, left-armer Reece Topley, recently confirmed a move to Hampshire, but the likes of Tom Westley and Nick Browne have enjoyed productive seasons while seamer Jamie Porter has 42 wickets at 26.11 in the Championship.
"I have had 19 wonderful years at Essex, both as a player and as a coach, but I now feel the time is right for a new challenge," Grayson said.
"I would like to thank the cricket committee for their trust and support over the years, in particular John Faragher, Graham Gooch, David Acfield, Keith Fletcher and Nigel Hilliard. A special thank you to Graham Saville, who brought me to Essex and has showed loyal support to me, for which I will always be grateful.
"Thank you also to the loyal supporters who understand the vision of the club and the development of Essex's own players. I have always been a strong supporter of the club's policy of developing our own players into first-class cricketers and it is a pleasure to see so many doing well in the game. I would like to thank the players for their hard work and dedication, particularly the three captains I have worked with; Mark Pettini, James Foster and Ryan ten Doeschate."
Grayson had supervised consistent displays in limited-overs cricket since taking charge in 2008 with Essex second only to Hampshire in the number of victories in one-day cricket in that time. But while Hampshire have gone on to win trophies, Essex have repeatedly faltered in the final stages, typified by this season's T20 Blast and Royal London campaign
Saville, former chairman of the cricket committee, said: "I'd like to thank Paul Grayson for his loyal service to the club as both a player and as a coach. He has done everything we had asked him to do with our youth policy.
"Since taking over in 2007, Paul has helped to develop some outstanding young cricketers, who we hope will go on to represent Essex for a long time in the future. We wish him all the best for the future."