Jefferson quits Essex with attack on Irani

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The Independent Online

Essex have parted company with their opening bat Will Jefferson with immediate effect. The 6ft 10in batsman had originally been included in the 13-man squad for the County Championship match against Division Two leaders Surrey at Colchester which began yesterday.

But according to a club insider when Jefferson went for a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the renewal of his contract with the chief executive David East, captain Ronnie Irani and chairman of cricket Graham Saville, he dropped a bombshell. According to the source it is alleged that Jefferson said he never wanted to play under Irani again.

An official statement released by Essex did not hint at any of this, merely saying: "Will Jefferson will not be renewing his contract when this expires on 30th September this year. The Club has mutually agreed to Will's departure with immediate effect and he will not take any further part in the current Essex season."

It is believed that Jefferson is not the only player at Essex who is unhappy with Irani and his man-management. According to the club source England wicketkeeper James Foster is considering his future, while former Zimbabwe captain Andy Flower is also said to be unhappy.

While the county is shocked at the suddenness of Jefferson's departure - Saville said yesterday: "We are sad to see him go, but if he is not happy with the captain or the coaches then it for the best if he leaves" - it does throw a question mark on the Essex leadership.

Jefferson, who had originally been named in the team for the Twenty20 Cup semi-final against Leicestershire last weekend before being left out, said: "I have had a very frustrating year due to an accident sustained in pre-season.

"The consequences of this have been that my opportunities to play first-team cricket have been severely limited. I feel the best chance of furthering my career in the game lies elsewhere." But Saville dismissed the notion that Irani's captaincy was in doubt. "We are pushing for promotion in the County Championship, we are leading the 40-over competition and we reached the finals day of the Twenty20 Cup."

Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire have both expressed an interest in Jefferson, but with Darren Bicknell retiring at the end of this season he is expected to sign for the former.

Jefferson, 26, has scored more than 4,000 runs, including 11 centuries for the county. "It is a human reaction," explained Saville. "Who do you blame when you are left out? The people who pick the team."

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