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Wheater excited by Essex challenge

PUBLISHED: 07:30 11 August 2017

Adam Wheater celebrates scoring a century for Essex against Durham MCCU (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Adam Wheater celebrates scoring a century for Essex against Durham MCCU (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Adam Wheater has endured a difficult first year back at Essex, but there are signs of a return to form in time for the business end of the season.

Wheater has taken the opportunity provided by Tom Westley’s absence on Test duty to lay claim to a regular place in the Essex middle-order.

The 27 year old hammered a quickfire 50 in the NatWest T20 Blast win at Hampshire last week, and followed up with 34 in the two-day Specsavers County Championship victory against Yorkshire at Scarborough.

His fifth-wicket partnership of 58 with captain Ryan ten Doeschate was the highest in a low-scoring match, taking Essex beyond Yorkshire’s first-innings total and towards a 41-point lead in the table.

“My form is slightly better, yes,” he said. “It’s always tough when you’re out of form to put a finger on it and work out where things have been going wrong.

“It has been frustrating, but that’s cricket and you’ve got to stay level-headed and crack on. Hopefully round the corner there are some runs. You just work hard and hope it turns around for you.

“In this sport in particular you’ve got to take it with a pinch of salt; it is what it is. The only disappointing thing is not performing for the team.

“It’s about winning games for Essex, regardless of personal aspirations, personal goals; it’s about getting over the line for the team.”

Wheater has an unenviable record of five ducks and four other single-figure scores in 18 innings across the three formats this season, and just three knocks above fifty.

As such, he might be forgiven for longing for the season to end, but added: “Not at all. Essex haven’t won Division One for something like 25 years and to play a part is fantastic. I’m fully embracing it and enjoying it because it’s a very rare position to be in.”

Wheater’s return home after four summers at Hampshire looked as if it would spell the end of James Foster’s illustrious career behind the stumps. But things haven’t gone as planned for his would-be replacement.

The younger man said: “I was fortunate to have that opportunity at the start of the season and I didn’t perform well enough to deserve keeping the gloves.

“It was the right decision [to recall Foster] and it was something I agreed with. So there is no frustration or resentment here, it’s just a case of me sticking at it and seeing where it goes.

“It’s not as if me and ‘Fozz’ are the same age. Next year, two years’ time, three years’ time, there will be opportunities. It’s not as if I need to force anything now by any means.

“‘Fozz’ is a class act; it is what it is. I knew when I came back to Essex this might be the situation so it’s not unexpected.”

Essex’s form in the T20 has been inconsistent and they are bottom of the table going into tonight’s fixture under the Chelmsford lights against Middlesex. Yet they still have an outside chance of progressing to the knockout stages.

Wheater added: “It seems as if everyone has beaten everyone. No one has run away with it. I think that is just the strength of the south group. There are no easy teams and no easy wins.

“It’s great we’re still in it otherwise these next four games would be a real slog to get through. So it’s nice there is a consequence – every game is a quarter-final really. To squeeze through would be a great result.”

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