ALL-ROUNER Matt Critchley has turned down a new deal with Derbyshire to sign for Essex in an attempt to force his way into the England set-up.

The 25-year-old enjoyed a stellar last season in the LV= Insurance County Championship, scoring 1,000 runs and taking 32 wickets while he also played for Welsh Fire in The Hundred.

He had one year left to run on his contract at Derbyshire and was offered fresh terms by his home county but turned that down to join Essex, who activated a clause in the contract of the Preston-born player to secure his services for the next three campaigns.

Critchley told “This was a difficult decision to make and one which comes down to being able to play Division One cricket next season.

“I’m at the stage in my career now where I want to be challenging for international recognition and I believe this move is a step towards that right now and the chance to test my skills in the first division.

“I’ll always be grateful to Derbyshire for the opportunities the club has given me, to the members for their support and to the coaches and players for some great memories, but the time is right for me to move on and take on a new challenge.”

Derbyshire chairman Ian Morgan added: “We’re disappointed to be losing Matt after seeing him develop greatly with the club over the past seven seasons.

“We were quick to better any offer from another county, however we understand his desire to test himself in Division One and he leaves with our best wishes for the future.”

Essex chief executive John Stephenson was delighted with the new addition, telling “It’s important that we look to improve our squad and continue to challenge for the top honours over the coming years.

“There were a host of clubs chasing Matt’s signature, so it’s a real coup for us that he’s bought into our vision and feels that Chelmsford is the place for him to develop as a cricketer and win titles.”