"On a personal note I have a burning desire to achieve greater things in this wonderful game." Getty
Ravi Bopara has ended his long-time association with Essex for a move to Sussex, the 34-year-old announced via a Twitter post on Wednesday (October 16). The all-rounder rejected a fresh contract in order to pursue a fresh challenge, which involves a greater focus on the T20 format.

"It is a great chance to play under a respected and acknowledged coach like Jason Gillespie and with a very strong and talented team of players, many of whom will no doubt go on to receive international honours," Bopara told the Sussex website.

"On a personal note I have a burning desire to achieve greater things in this wonderful game. I will now put a greater emphasis on T20 cricket. I am fitter and stronger than I have ever been and playing my best cricket.

"I want to emphasise that I am not giving up red-ball cricket but I will, for now, play less of it to find time in the calendar year to up-skill in T20 and take my game to a new level as I still have a drive to play international cricket."

Bopara leaves Essex - where he played for close to 18 years - on a high after a season where Essex did the double of the T20 Blast and the County Championship. Having earned a professional contract as a 17-year-old, Bopara made 499 appearances for the club across all formats. Over the course of those 18 seasons, he racked up 11,148 first-class runs at an average of 42.06, while scoring 101 half-centuries across all formats - 37 of which he converted to hundreds.

"I speak for the team when I say we are very sad to see Rav leave the club after 18 years," Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate said. "Rav has always been extremely popular in the dressing room, combining unbelievable talent, skill, hard work, and a great cricket mind with a friendly, witty and comical demeanour.

"He's been a great teammate and a fiercely loyal friend. I'm so pleased that he leaves on a high after playing the key role in the club winning our first T20 title. It will be strange to play against him next year, but we wish him all the very best at his new Club."