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County Championship final round preview: Surrey turn to England stars

The final round of the County Championship gets underway on Tuesday, with the Division One title still in dispute and one promotion slot from Division Two also up for grabs.

Two top-tier teams are battling to avoid the drop while Yorkshire, who were hit by a points deduction earlier this year, will try to avoid finishing bottom of the pile.

England duo return for final push

Surrey hope to have Will Jacks and Jamie Smith available against Hampshire to boost their push for back-to-back County Championship titles.

Former England Test openers Dom Sibley and Rory Burns negotiated the final day of their draw with Northamptonshire last Friday after the visitors enforced the follow-on at the Oval.

The eight points Surrey took from the match increased their lead at the top to 20 over nearest rivals Essex, who fell to defeat against Hants at Chelmsford.

Jacks and Smith missed the game due to England one-day duty and the duo will again be involved for the 50-over team against Ireland at Bristol on Tuesday when the final round of Championship matches gets underway.

However, England and Wales Cricket Board regulations state Surrey, who are 8/11 Draw No Bet, can draft them back in from Wednesday in place of pre-named players.

Essex require maximum effort

Northants' draw at the Oval was not enough for the county to preserve their Division One status, but they can still play a part in deciding the destination of the title as they face Essex.

Anthony McGrath's men, who won Division Two in 2021, had victory snatched away from them in dramatic fashion on Friday when James Vince and Liam Dawson came together to share 184 for the fifth wicket in Hampshire's successful chase of 267.

The partnership enabled the visitors to recover from 32-4 and complete a remarkable win by three wickets in the final over of the match.

Essex, who will hope Hants can repeat the feat against Surrey, must win with maximum points and hope the leaders lose without claiming any batting points, with the Chelmsford outfit 4/9 Draw No Bet against Northants.

If the scenario plays out and both teams finish level on 217 points Essex would be champions because they won more points than Surrey in the drawn game between the two sides in May.

Kent and Middlesex in survival scrap

At the bottom of Division One, Kent and Middlesex are battling to avoid joining Northants in the second tier next summer.

Kent, for whom Joe Denly shared crucial partnerships with the middle-order to rescue a draw with Somerset after being 31-4, host Lancashire, while Middlesex travel to face Nottinghamshire.

Left-arm spinner Aron Nijjar and India leggie Yuzvendra Chahal, both late-season recruits, are both available for the Spitfires.

But Michael Hogan will not be available after injuring his hamstring in Taunton, while Jordan Cox (finger) and Hamid Qadri (calf) are both on the long-term casualty list.

Middlesex lost at home to Warwickshire last week despite an unbeaten second-innings ton from Sam Robson and now trail Kent by a single point.

"We've got to scrap to try and right the wrongs from this game and go up to Trent Bridge with the belief we can get ourselves out of this hole," said veteran seamer Tim Murtagh.

The Lord's-based outfit are 1/1 Draw No Bet to get the win they need, while Kent are 6/5 in the same market against Lancs.

Pears remain on track for promotion

In Division Two, second-placed Worcestershire need a maximum of two points from their final game of the season at Yorkshire to seal promotion alongside Durham.

Alan Richardson's side collected eight points from the rain-affected drawn encounter with the table-toppers at New Road last week.

Despite not needing to win, Richardson insists his team will approach the game at Headingley in the same manner as every other one this summer.

Worcs had won their previous three Championship matches dating back to the last meeting with the Tykes in July, in which the White Rose county held the upper hand after posting 407 all out in the first innings.

Ottis Gibson's side, who could have all-rounder Matt Milnes available again after a stress fracture in his back, go into the final round of matches six points adrift of Gloucestershire - who are away at Sussex this week - at the bottom of the table.

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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