Surrey have announced they will sign highly-rated wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes from Essex at the end of the season on a three-year deal.
The 21-year-old has found first-team opportunities with the gloves hard to come by at Chelmsford, playing predominantly as a batsman only, and will hope a change of counties can provide the inspiration needed to kick on with his career in 2015.
Foakes, who has already represented England Lions, underlined his potential with a career-best 132 not out in the LV= County Championship Division Two clash against Gloucestershire in April although he has struggled since and has recently been playing in Essex's second XI side.
Surrey's director of cricket Alec Stewart believes they have pulled off a coup and will be keen for Foakes to provide competition to captain Gary Wilson and Steven Davies, the other wicketkeepeers at the Kia Oval.
"A player of his immense potential with both bat and gloves does not become available too often. He will add to the strength of our squad and we welcome him to the club,” said Stewart.
Essex head coach Paul Grayson has acknowledged Foakes' departure is a blow to the county, but admitted they could not stand in the way of his developing career.
“We have been lucky enough at Essex to have had a line of top class wicketkeeper-batsmen over the past few years and with James Foster continuing to perform at the highest level as England’s best wicketkeeper, Ben has found his keeping options limited," Foakes said.
“We wanted Ben to stay at the club, especially as he is one of our own who we have nurtured through our Academy. We offered him the opportunity to stay at Essex but we totally understand the reasons why he wants to leave and we wish him all the best.”