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Amla boost for Surrey

By Matt Somerford

Hashim Amla is set to step straight into Surrey's starting line-up for their LV= County Championship clash with Essex at Chelmsford.

South African Amla, the world's fourth ranked batsman, flew to England this week as cover for his countryman Graeme Smith following news he requires surgery on a fractured knee.

Smith has returned home and the Surrey skipper, who missed a large chunk of last season with an ankle problem, will be sidelined for the rest of the campaign.

It was a bitter blow for Surrey although the signing of Amla, who also enjoyed a short stint at the Kia Oval last term, represents a high-end replacement.

In Smith's absence, Ireland international Gary Wilson will captain Surrey while veteran Gareth Batty is included for the match at the Essex County Ground after a finger injury.

Tim Linley is out with a side strain while Dominic Sibley will miss the next four championship games as the 18-year-old sits his A-levels.

Gary Wilson has been appointed Surrey captain after Graeme Smith was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury

Surrey claimed their first win of the campaign at Gloucestershire last week, and face an Essex side beset by injuries.

Essex are without pacemen Sajid Mahmood, Tymal Mills, David Masters Graham Napier and Reece Topley while on-loan Oliver Newby has returned to Lancashire after suffering a hamstring injury in last week's loss to Worcestershire.

The long list of injuries has frustrated head coach Paul Grayson, with his side third despite their fast-bowling problems.

“Our physiotherapist is currently the hardest working individual at the club”, he said.

“I’ve spent hours on the phone attempting to bring in another pace bowler on-loan but there is nobody available.”

Essex have managed to land 22-year-old Tom Moore from club cricket in Brentwood and he comes into the squad.

Tanweer Sikander and Matt Salisbury are also selected while leg-spinner Tom Craddock could make his first appearance of the season.

Marcus North returns to Derbyshire's championship squad for the first time in eight years for the visit of Gloucestershire.

The veteran Australian was the Sheffield Shield player of the season in the winter, helping Western Australia to the final, and replaces Shivnarine Chanderpaul while he return to West Indies for international commitments.

North has impressed in the NatWest T20 Blast so far and Derbyshire will hope he can kick-start their four-day campaign, which sees them bottom of the second division without a win.

Mark Turner also returns to replace young paceman Tom Taylor.

Former England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones will make his Gloucestershire debut after being loaned in from Kent following Gareth Roderick's broken finger.

Seamer Michael Hogan has returned to Glamorgan after flying back to Australia for the birth of his second child

Glamorgan welcome back paceman Michael Hogan for their match against Leicestershire at the SWALEC Stadium.

Australian Hogan has missed the past three championship games after returning to Perth for the birth of his second child.

His return is timely as Graham Wagg misses out with a groin injury.

The Foxes have included seamer Alex Wyatt to their 12-man squad.

Worcestershire will be boosted by the return of Moeen Ali from England duty when they play Kent at Tunbridge Wells.

Moeen will bolster a batting line-up that captain Daryl Mitchell feels must improve despite sitting second in the table.

Mitchell has led from the front, scoring back-to-back centuries before hitting 97 in last week's win over Essex.

Saeed Ajmal took 13 wickets in that success and Mitchell thinks the Pakistan spinner's return "possibly papers over a few cracks in the batting".

Mitchell told the club's website: "If we had performed like that with the bat against a good Division One side, we would have got beat without a doubt.

"Is it about going back to the nets? I think it is more than that to be honest. We work as hard as any team, and the lads hit a lot of balls and practice a lot so that is not the reason.

"It is more of a mindset thing. It is taking that responsibility and having that desire to bat long periods of time and see out those tough periods and build an innings."

Kent have rested Australia left-armer Doug Bollinger with Robbie Joseph drafted in, while Matt Hunn has been named 12th man.

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