ESSEX wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes will join Surrey at the end of the season.
The 21-year-old, who has come through the ranks at Essex, will make the move after finding his keeping opportunities limited by the presence of Essex captain James Foster.
Essex head coach Paul Grayson said: "We have been lucky enough at Essex to have had a line of top-class wicketkeeper-batsmen over the past few years.
"With James Foster continuing to perform at the highest level as England's best wicketkeeper, Ben has found his keeping options limited.
"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."
Surrey director of cricket Alec Stewart said: "We're pleased to announce the signing of Ben Foakes.
"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."
The England Lion could face a tough battle for a place behind the stumps at the Oval, with club captain Gary Wilson and England keeper Steven Davies, who has taken a break from handling the gloves this season, both providing competition.
Foakes has played 32 first-class games for Essex, scoring over 1,200 runs at an average of 31.35 with three centuries and six fifties. His inability to displace Foster behind the stumps, though, means he has taken only 23 catches while his only stumping came in one-day cricket.
There has been some good news for Essex, however, with their find of the season, Tom Westley, committing himself to the county for two more years Westley has been in exceptional form during 2014 and is currently the team’s leading run scorer in all competitions, hitting centuries in all three formats.
Tom Westley said, “I am ecstatic to sign a two-year contract and I strongly believe that we have something special happening with a good group of players. The team are striving for success and it’s an exciting time to be at the Club.
“I would like to thank everyone for the support I have received so far in my career, and I look forward to finishing the season on a high.”
Grayson added: “It is great news that Tom has committed his future to the Club. He has been an outstanding performer in all competitions, particularly in one-day cricket. Tom is very ambitious cricketer and I believe he has the quality to continue to progress and play at the next level with England.”
Meanwhile, on the field, Essex find themselves on the back foot after the first day of their County Championships division two clash against Glamorgan in Swansea.
The Welsh county’s Jim Allenby returned figures of five for 56 including wickets in the space of five overs as Essex were bowled out for 286, with the main contributions coming from openers Tom Westley (60) and Nick Browne (73).
In reply Glamorgan finished on 27 for one, 259 behind, after losing Will Bragg two overs from the close when he was caught behind off Monty Panesar for 11. That wicket brought nightwatchman Andrew Salter to the middle to join Jacques Rudolph (16 not out).