ESSEX Cricket Club will start their new Specsavers County Championship campaign at Hampshire.

They will travel to The Ageas Bowl on Friday April 5 2019, after the new fixtures were announced this morning.

Anthony McGrath's side follow that up with a trip to play champions Surrey at The Kia Oval, the following week.

Essex have to wait until mid-May before they play their first home match in the County Championship.

They kick off a new campaign at The Cloudfm County Ground against Nottinghamshire.

The final home game of the season sees Surrey come to The Cloudfm County Ground on Monday, September 16.

And Essex complete their Championship campaign at Somerset on Monday, September 23.

Essex's Royal London One-Day Cup games have also been announced.

The Eagles begin with a trip to play Glamorgan on Wednesday April 17 and begin their home programme in the competition 48 hours later against Middlesex at Chelmsford, on April 19.

The play-off matches for the Royal London One-Day Cup are set for Friday May 10, with the semi-final matches proceeding two days later on the Sunday, with the Lord’s final taking place on Saturday May 25.

Meanwhile, Essex have been boosted by the news that key bowler Simon Harmer has extended his stay with the club.

The off-break bowler will stay at Chelmsford until at least the end of the 2021 season, after penning a new deal.

The 29-year-old has made a huge impression since making the move to Essex two years ago and finished last season as the Championship’s leading spin bowler, taking 57 wickets.

Harmer told the Essex CCC website: “I’m really excited to sign an extension and commit my future to this great club.

“From the moment I arrived two years ago I was made to feel part of the group and at home in Chelmsford.

"It is now a place I now consider my second home, so it was an easy decision for me to make.”

Head coach McGrath said: “Harmy is a world-class bowler who can do serious damage with the ball.

“He’s taken over 100 first-class wickets in each of the last two calendar years, which in itself is an unbelievable achievement. "He’s such a vital part of the bowling attack, so I’m thrilled he’ll be here for the foreseeable future.”