Ryan ten Doeschate steps down as captain of Essex as Tom Westley takes over

Ryan ten Doeschate leads off an Essex team on the brink of the title Getty Images

Ryan ten Doeschate has stepped down as captain of reigning county champions Essex after four seasons at the helm, with Tom Westley taking over the role.

In an open letter to the club he led to three Championship titles in four campaigns - once in Division two and twice in the top flight - the 39-year-old ten Doeschate said the captaincy had been "the biggest privilege".

"Now is the right time for someone new to take charge," ten Doeschate said in the letter, published on the club's website on Tuesday. "I'd like to thank all our Members and supporters in general who have followed the team over the last four years. I hope we've provided much entertainment and that you've shared in our pride of representing the club."

Ten Doeschate, who continued to represent Netherlands at T20 level through last year, will continue to play for Essex after signing a one-year contract extension in October following his side's tense draw in a rain-affected final match of the 2019 season against nearest rivals Somerset which sealed them the Division One title.

Ten Doeschate thanked current Essex coach Anthony McGrath and England head coach Chris Silverwood, with whom he took Essex back into the top tier of the Championship by winning Division Two in their first season as skipper and coach respectively, in 2016. Ten doeschate and Silverwood also led Essex to the Division One title in 2017 before McGrath assumed the club's head coaching role.

"I would like to pay tribute to an incredible bunch of players who have given everything to the team over the last four years and to whom I will always be indebted for allowing me to live out my cricket dream," ten Doeschate added. "I can't wait to join the troops, focus on my batting, and to give the new captain all of my support in continuing to try to get the best out of our great club."

McGrath described ten Doeschate as "a phenomenal" club captain.

"It's important to remember that Ryan isn't stepping away from Essex, he's still very much part of this club and I'm sure he will continue to have a positive presence both on and off the field," McGrath said.

Ten Doeschate captained the side for 58 first-class matches, winning 33 and losing just eight. Having led the club across formats from 2016 to 2018, he relinquished the T20 captaincy to Simon Harmer last year. Ten doeschate has represented the club 477 times in all formats, scoring 27 hundreds and taking more than 300 wickets in the process.

Harmer will remain as Eagles captain for the Vitality Blast, while the 30-year-old Westley steps up from the position of vice-captain for the Championship and Royal London Cup.

"It's a real honour for me to be named club captain and it's a challenge that I'm really looking forward to," said Westley, who joined the club at the age of 13 and has has made 152 first-class, 80 List A and 74 T20 appearances since making his debut in 2006. "I can't really put into words how much this means to me. I've spent my whole career with Essex so it's a really proud moment for me and my family.

"Ryan has done an outstanding job and deserves every bit of praise he gets. He's been a fantastic captain, a close friend and an excellent leader who I've learnt a lot from. We've been so successful as a club under his guidance, and my main goal as captain is to continue the great work he's done, carry on winning games of cricket and ultimately bring more trophies to this great club."