ALASTAIR Cook's presence will make a huge difference to Essex's title-chasing squad next season.

That is the view of the cricket club's chief executive Derek Bowden, who believes the former England captain will be an inspirational figure as they bid for County Championship glory.

Cook is set to play a more prominent part for Anthony McGrath's side in the 2019 season, having now retired from international duty.

The 33-year-old, whose farewell century for England has been nominated for the Sports Personality of the Year Greatest Sporting Moment of 2018, signed a new three-year deal with Essex in September.

And Bowden believes having England's all-time leading Test run scorer around will be a major boost for everyone.

He told the Gazette: “Alastair Cook has signed for three more years and he’ll make a huge difference, like he did when we won the title.

“Having him back will be great for us and he’s an inspiration for everyone, not just the young players.

“Cookie being around will make a huge difference and it makes a real impact."

Bowden says Essex would love to do well in all formats, next season.

Having won the division one crown in 2017, they finished third this time around along with reaching the One Day Cup quarter-finals.

He said: “We’d like to win the County Championship title again and also do well in one or hopefully both of the white ball formats.

“We’d didn’t perform as well as we’d have liked in them last season although we did reach the quarter-finals of the One Day Cup.

“But we didn’t do as well as we wanted to in the T20 Vitality Blast last season and that’s definitely something we’d like to do better in, next season.

“We were disappointed last year.

“Had we finished third the year immediately after we were promoted, we’d have been very happy.

“But we probably should have finished second last season and winning the title in 2017 has raised the bar.

“But we’ve been very well supported by members and supporters and there’s a very good vibe."

Simon Harmer and Ravi Bopara have both recently penned new deals with Essex.

And Bowden says he is hoping that they can bolster their squad further, before the new season starts next April.

“We’ve made some player acquisitions and hopefully, there are one or two more to follow," he said.

“We’re in conversations with a couple of T20 specialists.

“Simon Harmer has signed a contract extension until 2021 which is great news, as is Ravi Bopara signing for another year.

“Australian selection withstanding, we’ll also have Peter Siddle as our overseas player."