Surrey open County Championship defence against Essex

Surrey crowned champions
Surrey crowned champions

Surrey will begin their Specsavers County Championship title defence at home against Essex on April 11.

Their campaign starts the week after the 2019 season commences on April 5, an opening day that sees 2018 runners-up Somerset host promoted Kent.

The two other Division One fixtures on that Friday are Hampshire against Essex at the Ageas Bowl and Nottinghamshire against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge.

As well as Surrey, who claimed the trophy for the first time in 16 years with their triumph in September, getting their defence under way six days later, Kent meet Warwickshire, the other promoted side, at Edgbaston.

Also, Somerset are at Nottinghamshire that day, and Hampshire host Yorkshire.

In Division Two, relegated Lancashire and Worcestershire must both wait until the second week to begin their campaigns, facing Middlesex at Lord's and Leicestershire at Grace Road respectively on April 11.

Among the three second-tier matches taking place on the April 5 opening day, Sussex - third in 2018 - host Leicestershire, while Middlesex take on Northamptonshire away and Derbyshire entertain Durham.

The first-class season, which officially begins when Surrey take on MCC in the four-day Champion County match in Dubai from March 24, is scheduled to run until September 27. Only one team will be relegated, while three will be promoted.

During the World Cup, which runs from May 30 to July 14, some County Championship matches will see sides playing home fixtures away from their regular grounds.

And that includes Yorkshire taking on Warwickshire on June 17 in the first first-class game to be played in York since 1890.

In the Royal London One-Day Cup champions Hampshire will start their defence away against Kent on April 17.

They were the two sides who met in this year's final in June, which Hampshire won by 61 runs. The 2019 final will be on May 25.


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