ALASTAIR Cook admits he is ‘very frustrated’ to be sitting out the season opener with Lancashire tomorrow with a hip injury.

The former England captain will not feature in Essex’s County Championship Division One match at the Essex County Ground - meaning his battle against national team-mate Jimmy Anderson has been put on hold.

And Cook said it was very frustrating, but has backed Essex to do well in the top division, following promotion last season.

“It is frustrating to miss out,” said Cook, who averaged 91.85 for Essex last season and is available for the first three fixtures this campaign. “It has been an issue for a month but I hope to be back for the match against Somerset.

“You are unlikely to have everyone available, but I am disappointed. It is important to start well and I am hitting the ball well too.

“In terms of this season, historically sides coming up have found it hard. It will be tough with two of eight teams going down, but we have strength in depth in the batting department and a good player is likely to miss out.

“Mentally we need to get over the mental hurdle of being a second division side,” he added. “A good start is important and we need to try and strive for more as opposed to focusing on staying up.

“The mentality will be wrong otherwise. If we can reverse that and play good cricket early on then things change very quickly “We have fine players that will score runs here. If they can believe that then we will be fine.”

Cook has also backed the likes of Tom Westley and Nick Browne to excel as they bid to catch the eyes of England selectors.

“First division runs have tended to be taken into account more than second division runs but they need to focusing on Essex first and foremost ,” said Cook.