SIR Alastair Cook insists a second County Championship title in three seasons will not signal the end of his illustrious playing career.

Cook hit a first innings half-century as Essex sealed a draw against nearest challengers Somerset at Taunton.

And the former England Test captain confirmed he will be back at the crease with Essex looking to defend their crown next term.

Cook said: “People have been asking me about whether I will retire, but I have promised Ryan ten Doeschate that I will be playing for another year at least.

“I feel like an old man at times, trying to run between the wickets, but I have a few miles left in the legs yet.

“I didn’t even know how many we needed to win the game when going out for the second innings.

“It was all about protecting wickets and when Somerset offered to shake hands on a draw I was more than happy.

“Fair play to them because they won a trophy this season and it could have gone either way this week.

“To win nine games and not take the title must be tough to take.

“I was nervous all week. I had a feeling there might be a twist at the end.

“You don’t play on a wicket like that and expect to cruise through.”

By the lunch interval, Essex had reached 118/4 in their first innings in reply to 203.

But an amazing collapse in the final session brought a slump to 141 all out, the last six wickets falling for 15 in the space of 5.2 overs.

Somerset, needing a win to overtake their opponents and claim the pennant for the first time, forfeited their second innings with a lead of just 62.

However, Essex reached 45/1 before the players shook hands and Essex were crowned champions.

Simon Harmer led Essex to a first ever Vitality Blast crown on Saturday and the South African admits he had been anxious ahead of a season-defining week.

Essex’s leading wicket-taker said: “The last couple of weeks have been difficult for me, with the anxiety of not knowing whether we were going to win a trophy, two or none. You play through a million scenarios in your head, especially coming here knowing the wicket would play as it did and that it would be tough for us to get a result.

“Nobody gave us a chance in the T20 finals and we proved everyone wrong, but there was a lot of expectation on us this week, with our lead in the table and some bad weather around.

“At the moment the feeling is one of massive relief.

“I am sure we are going to enjoy ourselves because it has been a long season.

“Hats off to head coach Anthony McGrath, who has been the constant within our group and kept us level-headed. He has the right people around him and when things were not going so well he was always the voice of reason.”