ENGLAND batter Dan Lawrence is swapping Essex for Surrey, agreeing a three-year deal with the reigning county champions.

Lawrence is a local favourite at Chelmsford having come through the ranks from Chingford Cricket Club and his departure at the end of the season will be a hammer blow to Essex.

The 25-year-old has won 11 Test caps and is part of the current Ashes squad, but he will be hoping his switch to the Kia Oval can further enhance his international prospects.

Lawrence, who made his Essex debut as a 17-year-old and became the championship’s third youngest centurion in 2015, has scored 5,898 runs in 112 first-class appearances with 13 hundreds.

His aggressive style has also brought success in short-form cricket and he boasts a strike-rate of 140.16 in T20 cricket.

He said: "It is with a heavy heart that I will be leaving Essex at the end of this season. Essex is the county who taught me how to play the game, developed me as a person and allowed me to play the sport I love professionally.

“At this stage of my career, I believe a move to the Oval offers a new challenge and would hugely benefit my own ambitions.

"Whilst an incredibly difficult decision, it is one that I am taking to continue my development as a cricketer.”

The Brown Caps’ director of cricket, former England captain Alec Stewart, was enthused about the latest addition to his star-studded squad.

“I first saw Dan play as a 17-year-old when he scored 161 against us in just his second first-class game, and it was obvious he had the potential to become a very special player.

“When a player of his calibre becomes available, the opportunity to bring him to the club was something I was exceptionally keen to try and make happen.

“After just a couple of conversations it was apparent, he wants to fulfil his ambitions of being the very best player he can be and become an England regular in all formats.”