FORMER Colchester and East Essex batsman Josh Rymell has signed a rookie contract with Essex County Cricket Club running until the end of the 2020 season.

The 18-year-old turned out for the Castle Park side's First XI for two seasons before leaving last year.

Rymell said: “I’m absolutely over the moon to sign my first contract with Essex.

“It really means a lot to me and my family and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in and learning from some of the best around.

“Hopefully this is the start of a long and successful journey for me with the club.”

Rymell hit the headlines when he hit a fine century on his Colchester first-team debut, in May, 2017.

He scored 114 off 107 balls in a 208-run victory over Loughton in their Essex League Cup first-round clash, at Castle Park.

Rymell made his first Essex appearance for the club’s age-group sides in 2015 and featured 19 times for the Second XI in 2019.

He averaged 26.56 with the bat and his highest score of 87 came against Durham in a 50-over match, at Chelmsford.

Rymell will continue to go through his rehabilitation programme over the next few months after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury last August.

He is set to join Essex's first team in Abu Dhabi for the pre-season tour, in March.

Meanwhile, long-serving Ryan ten Doeschate has stood down as Essex's club captain after four seasons leading the team, with Tom Westley taking over as skipper.

During ten Doeschate's tenure, Essex have risen to the top of red-ball cricket and won three titles in four campaigns.

He has captained the side for 58 first-class matches during this period, winning on 33 occasions and suffering defeat just eight times.

The 39-year-old took on the role prior to the 2016 season and immediately led the club back to division one, after claiming the division two title at the first attempt.

The side then went unbeaten throughout their first season back in the top-tier of English cricket, winning 10 of 14 games and claiming a first Championship title in 25 years.

In 2019, Essex once again tasted success in four-day cricket, with ten Doeschate skippering the club to an eighth Championship title following a ‘winner takes all’ match with Somerset in Taunton.

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath said: “Ryan has been a phenomenal club captain and as Head Coach, I couldn’t have asked for any more from him.

“His commitment and dedication to the club is second to none, and if you look at the position Essex were in before he took over and compare it to where they are now, a lot of that rise is down to Ryan.

“Now is the right time for someone else to take the reins and lead the team. It’s important to remember that Ryan isn’t stepping away from Essex, he’s still very much part of this club and I’m sure he will continue to have a positive presence both on and off the field.”

Essex Cricket Chairman John Faragher added: “During his time as club captain Ryan has shown outstanding leadership and interpersonal skills, both of which have been a major factor in the club’s success over the last four years.

“To win division two and then two Championship titles in four years is a remarkable achievement and he steps down with the club in a strong position for further success.

“He is a great ambassador for the game of cricket and especially for Essex County Cricket Club.”