James Foster had a newly-appointed lieutenant by his side when he led Essex into the season, with 25-year-old Ravi Bopara taking on the role of vice-captain.
Foster said: “This is great news for the club. Ravi has played his cricket with Essex for a long time, since a very young age in fact, and he now has vast experience with both England and Essex.
“I’m sure that both he and the club will benefit hugely form the added responsibility that he’s been given.”
Essex first team coach Paul Grayson added: “It’s a good appointment. Ravi has got a very good cricket brain and we want to utilise that a bit more. Hopefully, it will help him to progress as a player and a person and I think he will be very well suited to the role.”
Meanwhile, Foster is looking for his side to bounce back after their relegation last year with promotion top of his wish list for 2011.
“We all enjoyed the experience of playing frst division cricket and we were bitterly disappointed that we lost form towards the end of the season and paid the price,” he added.
“We want to win our place back and a lot of our players were with us when we won promotion last time so they know the demands required. I believe that we have got the squad capable of achieving promotion and, with Owais Shah joining us after the IPL, it promises to be a very exciting season for the club.”
Having taken on the captaincy in mid-season last year, Foster is ready for the demanding task of both leading the side and keeping wicket. “It’s tough, I’ve no illusions about it but I enjoyed the experience last year and I’ve no doubt that I can carry out both roles.”
The 31-year-old is also coping with a well-deserved benefit this year just to add to his heavy workload. “I’m very fortunate because I’ve got a terrific benefit committee who are working hard on my behalf. We’ve got some exciting events organised. Things have been going well so far and it’s been very enjoyable.
“I’ve got a Twenty20 match at Chelmsford in a couple of months as part of the benefit when people like Darren Gough, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ian Harvey – plus a past Essex legend or two – have said they will play. So, on and off the field, it’s a pretty hectic time.”