London - England Test captain Alastair Cook has signed a new two-year contract at Essex, the county side announced on Thursday.
The 31-year-old left-handed opener rarely plays for the county, based in Chelmsford, east of London, because of his England commitments.
But they are the only county he has represented in his 13-year career to date and this season saw him make an excellent start to the season with Essex, scoring three hundreds for the club in the Second Division of the County Championship and 523 first-class runs in total thus far in the campaign.
Cook, already England's record Test run-scorer, will head to Leeds for the first Test against Sri Lanka starting on May 19 needing just 36 more runs to become the first England batsman to score 10 000 Test runs.
"It's great to sign with Essex for another couple of years, and I believe there are exciting times ahead for the club under the new head coach," said Cook.
"I've been at Essex for all of my career, since making my debut in 2003, and I hope to continue playing here for as long as possible."
Essex head coach Chris Silverwood, the former England paceman, added: "To have some of Alastair's qualities in the squad for the opening matches of the season has been a real boost.
"He was with us throughout pre-season, and it has been great to have him around the club - especially the experience he passes on to younger members of the squad during training on a day-to-day basis.
"We know that his England commitments take up a vast amount of the season, but when available he has shown how he can further strengthen our batting line-up, and it's great he will be with the club for another two years."