KEMAR Roach will spearhead Surrey’s attack when they open their bid for the LV Insurance County Championship title next month.

The 33-year-old Barbadian speedster, expected to lead the West Indies pace line-up in their Richards-Botham Trophy Series against England, claimed 22 wickets in just five matches last season.

He provided Surrey with a cutting edge they otherwise missed in a lacklustre four-day campaign and with the two division structure back, following adaptations made during the pandemic, a substantially improved campaign is being demanded.

Roach should to be in place for the opening match on Thursday, April 7, when Surrey head to Edgbaston to play champions Warwickshire, followed by games at the Kia Oval against Hampshire (April 14), Somerset (April 21), Gloucestershire (April 28, Bristol) and Northamptonshire (May 5, home).

“I’m thrilled to be heading back for another stint with Surrey,” said Roach, who has taken 231 wickets in 68 Tests and 432 in all first-class cricket.

Director of cricket Alec Stewart added: “Kemar had a real impact on the squad last year, not just as a bowler but in the dressing room as an experienced international player. He is a proven performer in all conditions and showed that he’s perfectly suited to the early part of the English domestic season.”

Roach will join Hashim Amla in the overseas players slots, the South African strokemaker expected to be available throughout the season.

With skipper Rory Burns having been left out of the England party touring West Indies and Ollie Pope in the Caribbean but out of favour, Surrey could start with a strong line-up if they can avoid a plague of injuries which has so often beset their bowlers in recent times.

All-rounder Sam Curran is continuing the return to fitness programme which put him out of the Ashes series, with a view to starting the season, although older brother Tom – diagnosed with a similar problem while playing in Australia’s Big Bash League during the winter – is not due back until the start of the Vitality Blast T20 in late May.

Surrey will also hope that England opener Jason Roy is ready by then, having dropped out of the India Premier League to take a break from cricket.