Alastair Cook: England captain to miss Essex run-in

England captain Alastair Cook will not return to Essex this season to aid the county's promotion push.

Cook, 28, led England to an Ashes victory this summer and will instead focus on preparing for the winter Ashes tour to Australia in two months' time.

"We're counting Cookey out - he's resting his body for the Ashes," Essex head coach Paul Grayson said.

Cook for Essex

Cook has played 68 first-class matches for Essex, scoring 12 centuries, 29 50s and averaging 43.47

"If he was going to play some cricket I guess he'd be playing for England in the 50-over series."

There had been a hope that Cook, who averaged 27.70 as England secured a 3-0 series win over Australia, could return for Essex's final County Championship game of the season against Hampshire.

The Chelmsford side are third in Division Two, but could close the gap on second-placed Northamptonshire to five points should they take maximum points from Wednesday's trip to Canterbury to face Kent.

Grayson saw his side take 23 of the 24 points available against Worcestershire last week to maintain their hopes of promotion.

"We've played good cricket of late," Grayson told BBC Essex .

"We know if we can have a good four days and win this match against Kent we could be six or seven points behind Northants with two games to go.

"There's plenty to play for and the players are very aware of that."