Surrey and Middlesex are set to take the field for the first time this season at the Kia Oval in July, as county cricket inches towards a return in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The match is scheduled to be a two-day red-ball encounter, on July 26-27, and is intended as a warm-up fixture for the proposed return of the County Championship in August - potentially in a regional format, comprising teams from the North, South and West, and a final at Lord's.

Though the details of the warm-up match are still to be confirmed, the contest is set to take place behind closed doors at the Kia Oval but with a live stream to broadcast the action.

Surrey are one of two counties, along with Lancashire, who chose not to furlough their players during the pandemic, albeit the players - like Middlesex's - have agreed to a salary reduction during the lockdown.

"I'm really excited to hopefully see cricket return to the Kia Oval at the end of July and then for the rest of the season," said Alec Stewart, Surrey's director of cricket.

Sussex, meanwhile, have emerged as one of the four counties that are understood to prefer a 50-over competition rather than first-class cricket when the season does get underway.

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A final decision on the chosen format is expected by July 7 but, speaking to ESPNcricinfo earlier this week, Daryl Mitchell, the PCA chairman, hoped that the differences of opinion would not undermine the plans for cricket's resumption.

"Everyone is preparing as if we'll be out there early August," said Mitchell. "There's still work to be done around the safety aspects and what hotels look like, and what protocols would be put in place for four-day cricket ... [but] it's a case of getting back into it over the next few weeks and once we get that decision players will be able to focus."

"We need all 18 counties to buy into whatever competitions we can for the last couple of months of the season," he added. "I am confident now. More confident than I would have been three, four, six weeks ago I guess. Things are moving in the right direction."