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Monday, 10 September, 2001, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Essex turn to Gooch
Graham Gooch
Gooch sees his new role as a "huge challenge"
Former England captain Graham Gooch is returning to Essex to replace Keith Fletcher as head coach.

He will take over at the beginning of next month and is to implement a new cricket structure at the club following the team's relegation from Division One of the County Championship.

"I am delighted the club have asked me to take on this hugely challenging role.

"It is quite clear the playing squad needs to be strengthened this winter and we will all be doing our utmost to ensure that performances on the field in 2002 are greatly improved," said Gooch.

He will be assisted by former spin bowler John Childs, with Fletcher moving into a development role behind the scenes with the aim of producing new talent.

Having won promotion on the last day of last season, Essex have struggled this summer due to injuries, loss of form and reports of dressing room unrest.

Nasser Hussain's England commitments, plus various injury problems, have kept him out of the team for most of the season, and Australian batsman Stuart Law is leaving the club after six years

Graham Gooch batting for Essex in the NatWest Trophy
Gooch was capable of dominating an attack

The club has also decided to release veteran batsman Paul Prichard and spinners Tim Mason, Peter Such and Michael Davies.

There have also been changes in the boardroom with David Acfield stepping down as chairman

They are confident, however, that Gooch can reverse the decline in form in the middle.

"We are all delighted that Graham has accepted this position and recognise that he brings with him vast experience and a deep understanding of the modern game," chief executive David East commented.

The 48-year-old was one of England's greatest ever batsmen, scoring almost 49,000 first-class runs, includsing 128 centuries, during a playing career which lasted from 1973 to 1997.

He was part of the Essex side which won the title six times between 1979 and 1992 and also claimed a sucecssion of one-day trophies.

After starting his Test career with a pair against Australia in 1975, he went on to make 118 appearances for England, and also played in 125 one-day internationals.

He scored 8,900 runs in Tests at an average of 42.58, with a highest score of 333 against India in 1990.

His international career was not without controversy, however, and he was banned by England in the 1980s after agreeing to lead a 'rebel' side on tour in South Africa.

Since retiring, he has served as an England selector and batting coach, and has most recently been working with Durham.

Gooch is also involved in media work and was a member of the BBC Test Match Special commentary team during the summer Ashes series against Australia.

See also:

26 Aug 01 |  Forum
Gooch on English cricket
30 Aug 01 |  Counties
Law eyes Lancashire move
30 Jul 01 |  Essex
Acfield steps down
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