Essex win first English cricket league title in 25 years

LONDON (AP) Essex became English cricket’s county champion for the first time in 25 years, clinching the league title with two games to spare on Friday in its first season back in the top division.

The team of England batsmen Alastair Cook and Tom Westley was able to celebrate after nearest rival Lancashire lost to Somerset, giving Essex an unassailable lead in Division One of the County Championship.

Essex, which is unbeaten in the league, is only the second county since two divisions were introduced to English cricket’s four-day format in 2000 to win the championship having been promoted the previous season.

With England not playing test matches until July this summer, Essex had Cook available for the first half of the season. The former national captain has scored 667 runs in total at a team-high average of 66.70.

Essex has the top two wicket-takers in the division in South African spinner Simon Harmer and young paceman Jamie Porter.