THERE will be a rare chance for cricket fans to see England captain Alastair Cook return to his county roots when Gloucestershire take on Essex in the County Championship next week.
Cook was born at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in Gloucester on Christmas Day in 1984 when his parents were on a family visit to Cam, but grew up in Essex before going on to play for them at county level and he is expected to feature in the four-day Division Two game at the County Ground in Bristol, starting on Sunday, April 27 (11am).
The 29-year-old has played in Essex’s opening two fixtures, hitting centuries against Derbyshire and Surrey, as he bids to find form ahead of England’s summer schedule, which starts with a One-Day International (ODI) against Scotland next month before Twenty20, ODI and Test series’ against Sri Lanka and India.
With England undergoing a rebuilding job under newly-appointed head coach Peter Moores following their Ashes defeat in Australia last winter, it will offer a chance for some of Gloucestershire’s players to catch Cook’s eye with the bowlers all hoping to take his prized wicket.
One player with ambitions of breaking into the England setup is vice-captain Chris Dent, a left-handed opening batsman like Cook who has been tipped to play international cricket by Gloucestershire director of cricket John Bracewell.
However, the 23-year-old insists his main aim is to strongly back up a breakthrough season last year, where he scored over 1,000 first class runs for the first time in his career.
He said: “I think I’ve just got to cover my bases here and if the powers that be come knocking on the door I’ll obviously be chuffed but I don’t think I can really expect anything.
“There are still some really good players out there, who have done a lot more than I have, so I just need to try and score runs here and try and get them to notice me really.
“There are a lot of players who have scored 1,000 runs in a season and in the next couple of seasons haven’t done anything so the challenge is to back it up and have two good seasons in a row.”
Like Cook, Dent spent last winter in Australia, but the Thornbury club man was playing grade cricket, which he felt benefitted him.
He said: “I went to Melbourne and played in sun, which kept me in reasonable nick in the winter and I came back and felt in good nick so I think it was good for me.”