ESSEX County Cricket Club will help England’s Ashes defence next year as the national side will warm up in Chelmsford.

It has been confirmed the test side will be at the County Ground for a four-day game against the Eagles ahead of the five match series against Australia for the coveted urn.

The match starts on June 30 and will feature the England squad, captained by Essex batsman Alastair Cook, with the aim of getting the players ready before the series begins on July 10 in Nottingham.

It is not the first time the national team has played a county before the Ashes, but Hugh Morris, managing director of England Cricket, said he was grateful to Essex for agreeing to the game.

Mr Morris said: “Our three-day match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in 2009 provided excellent preparation for the Test squad ahead of the Ashes Test Series.

“We are very grateful to Essex for providing us with a similar warm-up fixture next summer, during a period when there is a break in the County Championship schedule.”

David East, chief executive of Essex CCC, said it was a great honour for the county to be playing England.

He said: “When we received news of this, we were all naturally delighted to have this prestigious fixture in the heart of the summer.”

Fans of Essex also expressed delight on hearing England will be going to face their favourite side.

One fan, Liam Thrift, 22, of Beeches Road, Chelmsford, said: “This fixture will be fantastic.

“It will be great to see the country’s best players coming to the County Ground. I just hope the weather holds out.”

A spokesman for the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed Cook and any other Essex players selected in the test squad will play for England in the match.