Eight* Essex players have agreed contract extensions with the club. They are Graham Napier, Mark Pettini, Ravi Bopara, Maurice Chambers, Jaik Mickleburgh, Tymal Mills, Ben Foakes and Tom Westley.
All eight, with the exception of fast-bowler Maurice Chambers and England all-rounder Ravi Bopara who have signed for one year, have signed two-year extensions, meaning that they will remain at Chelmsford until at least the end of the 2014 season.
Departing chief executive David East said: "Successful teams flow in cycles and we now have an amazing crop of talented youngsters maturing together. I believe they provide the platform for us to achieve many honours in the years to come. I am delighted so many have committed their futures to the club going forward, and it is a testament to the academy and development framework operating at Essex that we are continuing to produce talent of this quality."
Napier and Pettini have been with Essex for at least a decade and are established senior players, with Pettini a former club captain and Napier one of county cricket's leading all-rounders, especially in limited-overs cricket. Bopara, meanwhile, is also an Essex stalwart, as well as being part of England's current plans in linited-overs cricket.
Of the other five, all youngsters, to have penned new deals, Mickleburgh and Westley showed the makings o a successful opening partnership towards the end of the 2012 season; Mills and Chambers are both fast-bowlers capable of bowling with genuine pace; while Foakes is the current wicket-keeper for England Under-19s and, along with Adam Wheater, who has been linked with a move to Hampshire, is seen as the successor to James Foster.
Head coach Paul Grayson was pleased to have secured the future of Essex's latest crop of young players, saying, "We have highly exciting young players at the club who we believe have a massive future at Essex. We want to show them commitment by giving them new contracts and hopefully they can repay us by putting in the performances next season and in the future. In particular, Jaik (Mickleeburgh) and Tom Westley formed a great opening partnership for the second half of the season and I'm hoping they form will continue into 2013."
*Article was ammended at 1445 GMT to include news of Ravi Bopara's contract extension
Derbyshire have signed another of their current squad on a new three-year deal as they look to cement their Division One status next season. Wes Durston follows in the footsteps of Tony Palladino, Ross Whiteley and Jonathan Clare in agreeing terms in recent days.
Durston joined the club in the middle of the 2010 season after impressing while playing for the Unicorns following his release from Somerset. Since then, he has established himself as one of Derbyshire's most reliable batsmen in all forms of the game, as well as being a more than useful off-spin bowler.
The 31 year-old said, “I am over the moon to be committing the next three years of my career to Derbyshire. This is as tight-knit a squad as I’ve known throughout my career and I’m delighted to be remaining a part of it for the foreseeable future. We have a young and extremely talented group of players and I hope my experience can help the younger guys - and the squad as a whole - to achieve more in the years ahead."
The ECB have banned Somerset's overseas player at the end of last season Abdur Rehman for 12 weeks following yesterday's revelation that he tested positive for a recreational drug, now confirmed as being cannabis, during his time there.
Under the terms of the ban, he will be unable to play cricket in any country that is a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Code, which includes his native Pakistan, until midnight on 21st December. He has already been withdrawn for the Sialkot Stallions squad which was due to participate in the forthcoming Champions League T20 in South Africa.
Rehman, who tested positive for the drug during Somerset's LV= County Championship match against Nottinghamshire in August, apologised to the cricket community, saying, "I apologise to my family, the PCB, the ECB, Somerset CCC, my team-mates and my fans. It was an error of judgement on my part that will cost me dearly and I would like it to be a lesson to all others in sports elsewhere."
In other news from Somerset, leg-spinner Max Waller has penned a one-year contract extension. Waller will spend the winter at the Darren Lehman Academy in Adelaide thanks to funding from the ECB.
Glamorgan have extended the contract of middle-order batsman Ben Wright until the end of the 2013 season. He follows other members of the current squad - John Glover, Huw Waters, Andrew Salter, Mike Reed and Stewart Walters - in agreeing terms with the Dragons recently.
Glamorgan’s head of elite performance Matthew Mott said: “It is fantastic news that we have got Ben on board for another year. He is a real team player with a lot of potential and is one of the hardest workers in the squad. He’s keen to do very well and is a player than presents a case to be picked in all three forms of the game, so we look forward to him really progressing. It’s been a tough year for batsmen, but he has played some significant innings and when he develops that consistency over the full season he will be a real strong player for Glamorgan for years to come.”
Worcestershire have secured the future of the last of their out-of-contract players, Shaaiq Choudhry, by verbally agreeing a new deal with the former Leeds/Bradford University player. Choudhry joins Brett D'Oliveira, Neil Pinner, Matt Pardoe and Chris Russell in agreeing new deals with the Pears since the end of the 2012 season. Their former wicket-keeper Ben Scott, who was told he would not be offered a new contract for 2013, has announced his retirement from professional cricket at age of 31.
Northamptonshire have extended the contract of wicket-keeper David Murphy by two years. Murphy is likely to be the county's first choice gloveman next season after usurping incumbent Niall O'Brien during the 2012 season. O'Brien has been give permission to talk to other counties and has been linked to Leicestershire.
Meanwhile, Murphy has been called up to Scotland's latest international squad after a relaxing of the rules regarding eligibility for players with a British passport.
Northamptonshire have also agreed a one-year contract extension with South African all-rounder Con de Lange.
© Cricket World 2012
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