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County Championship: ECB free five England players for duty with clubs

Essex’s Tom Westley has so far scored 193 runs in five Tests for England, of which his best score of 59 came on his debut against South Africa at The Oval

Five England players have been released for duty with their clubs for this week’s County Championship fixtures.

In the week they could be crowned champions, Division One leaders Essex will have Tom Westley available for the trip to Edgbaston to face Warwickshire.

The Bears, who could be relegated this week, will have Chris Woakes back.

But Essex are not allowed to use ex-England captain Alastair Cook, while second-placed Lancashire go to Somerset without seam bowler James Anderson.

Surrey opener Mark Stoneman will be allowed to play against Yorkshire, while the England and Wales Cricket Board have also freed Middlesex paceman Toby Roland-Jones and Hampshire spinner Mason Crane to face each other at Uxbridge.

To claim their first county title since 1992 Essex must win at Edgbaston while hoping that Lancashire slip up at Taunton against relegation-threatened Somerset, who have lost injured duo Jamie Overton and Lewis Gregory.

As well as having Westley back, Essex will be further bolstered by the return of skipper Ryan ten Doeschate, who missed last week’s rain-affected draw with Lancashire at Old Trafford after being forced to return to South Africa for personal reasons.

“Ryan has been inspirational for us this season,” head coach Chris Silverwood told BBC Radio Essex. “Not just the way he has led the side but also with his personal contributions. It will be great to have him back.”

Varun Chopra, who led Essex last week in ten Doeschate’s absence, will be back at Edgbaston for the first time since he left Warwickshire to return to Chelmsford a year ago and, if results fall a certain way, he could conceivably be part of a Championship-winning side on the day his old county are relegated.

Ashwin in at Worcester, but no Moeen

In the race for promotion from Division Two, second-placed Worcestershire, who would go top if they beat bottom club Leicestershire at New Road, are not allowed to use Moeen Ali.

He is not in the England T20 squad for Saturday’s meeting with West Indies at Chester-le-Street, but will resume training on Friday in preparation for the start of the five-match one-day international series on Tuesday, 19 September.

However, Worcestershire have now been told that they will have India’s Ravichandran Ashwin available for both of their final games, following speculation that the spinner might be recalled for a one-day series against Sri Lanka.

After claiming eight wickets in the match on his debut, Ashwin went wicketless in last week’s win over Division Two leaders Notts at seamer-friendly Trent Bridge, only bowling in the second innings.

But as they seek to seal promotion from their final two games, both of which are at home, Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes expects Ashwin to play more of a part.

“Ravi had a quiet game against Notts,” he told BBC Hereford & Worcester. “But that was on a wicket that was designed not to spin. He’s a world-class player and I’m sure he’s ready to make a telling contribution.

“It was a great victory against Notts. Daryl Mitchell played superbly to get us home. But we’ve now got to knuckle down and finish the season well.

“We have eight days of the season left and we’re desperate to get promoted. We’ve played the whole season to do that. We don’t want to now be relying on games going our way in other matches.”

This week’s fixtures (12-15 September)

Division One: Warwickshire v Essex, Somerset v Lancashire, Middlesex v Hampshire, Surrey v Yorkshire

Division Two: Worcestershire v Leicestershire, Glamorgan v Northamptonshire, Sussex v Derbyshire, Gloucestershire v Kent

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