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Surrey CCC start title defence against Essex – and will have England stars available

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

Surrey start the defence of their County Championship Division One title on April 11 with a home game against Essex.

The South Londoners are then on Royal London One-Day Cup duty until mid-May, before they travel for their second County Championship match at Somerset.

Surrey will have England stars Rory Burns, Tom Curran and Ben Foakes available for their first two matches.

And team-mates Liam Plunkett and Jason Roy are also available, provided both are passed fit.

Surrey are 5/2 favourites with the bookies to once again lift the title. After that it is Essex (9/2), Nottinghamshire (15/2) and Hampshire (8/1) with the shortest odds.

Summer recruit Jordan Clark, signed on a three-year deal from Lancashire in August, admits that lifting the trophy again is the aim.

The 27-year-old has taken 150 wickets and scored more than 5,000 runs in all formats since his debut in 2010.

“I played against Surrey for a few years and absolutely loved it when I played at The Oval,” he said.

“It is a fantastic ground.

“I was looking to move, looking for a new challenge and the opportunity to move to Surrey came up. The coaches are amazing and I just thought it was a great opportunity while I’m in my best years to express myself and be the best cricketer I can be.

“The lads have been fantastic. All the coaches – especially Stewie [Alec Stewart] – have been brilliant. They’ve really welcomed me and made it easy for me to settle.

“My targets? I probably wouldn’t be really specific. To do the best I can to help the club win as many games as possible and to win some silverware. To back up as champions two years in a row is a massive aim and achievement for all of us, I think.”

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