SIR Alastair Cook insists that having fun and winning games for Essex has provided the motivation for him since his international retirement.

England’s greatest run-scoring Test batsman classily struck the 67th first-class century of his career with a chanceless 172 in the Bob Willis Trophy final.

Cook bowed out from international cricket two years ago before helping boyhood county Essex win the County Championship last season.

And after his second ton of the campaign, in which he is the leading run-scorer with 532 runs, he admits his hunger is not waning.

“There is not the motivation of a few years ago but that was one of the reasons I am not still playing international cricket,” Cook said.”

“I enjoying playing with this bunch of lads. It is just good fun.

“I was scared when I retired of just walking away because it is a big hole to fill. I have enjoyed hanging around the dressing room at Essex and trying to put in good performances in.

“I played nicely. It was tough early on as the new ball does nip a bit and Somerset are relentless in their approach.

“At one stage it looked like we could get a big lead but they battled back well. But there is a lot of cricket left.

“It is a great occasion to play in any final, especially one which hasn’t been done before, and under the legacy of Bob Willis it is cool.”

Cook put on 170 for the second wicket with captain Tom Westley to put Essex into a strong position – although late wickets saw them end the day still trailing by 30 runs.

Westley had endured a poor Group Stage, only collecting 121 runs across five matches, but returned to form with a solid 51.

“He played really well," said Cook.

There has only been five games and he has looked fine but has found ways to get out.

“We built a partnership which allowed us to get right back in this game.

“It is such a big change to go from being a vice-captain to taking over the club and filling Ryan ten Doeschate’s big shoes.

"It was a massive learning curve for him and bodes well for next season.”