Graham Napier hails England Test skipper Alastair Cook’s influence at Essex

Alastair Cook

Alastair Cook - Credit: PA

Graham Napier has heralded Alastair Cook’s impact, after the England captain got off to a flying start for Essex this week.

Cook, eligible for Essex’s first four games of the County Championship season, struck a superb 105 and put on a second-wicket stand of 222 with Tom Westley, against Gloucestershire on Monday,

The 31-year-old is expected to play a big part for England this summer in Test Series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, but Essex are seemingly getting as much from him as they can, as they look to seal that solitary promotion spot from Division Two.

Napier, 35, who is retiring at the end of the campaign, after 19 years at Chelmsford, said: “Having Cooky in the dressing room at any time of year is a great boost, not only for older guys but the youngsters as well.

“They can learn so much from him, from the way he goes about his job, how he presents himself, how he bats.

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“He is the complete package and that is fantastic for the dressing room.”

Napier took three wickets in each innings as Gloucestershire were all out for 262 and then yesterday, for 215.

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He scored 33 runs in Essex’s first innings of 383 all out, Chris Silverwood’s side requiring 59 runs to win today, after finishing on 34 without loss at close of play yesterday.

All-rounder Napier starts a new chapter at the end of the season, as director of the Graham Napier Cricket Academy at Royal Hospital School, near Ipswich.

He said: “I’ve already been down to the school and there are a lot of good prospects.

“It’s something to get my teeth into and maybe I can develop the next Reece Topley to play for Essex and England.”

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