Cricket: Porter pleased to deliver with bat
PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 September 2018
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Jamie Porter’s rise from tail-end Charlie to run-scoring lower-order batsman has been both sudden and unexpected, but not accidental.
The Essex seamer, called up by England for three Test squads this summer, had managed just 32 Specsavers County Championship runs before he went out to face Surrey at Chelmsford last week.
But he not only more than doubled his aggregate during the match, in adding 12 and 31, he surpassed his previous highest total of nine in both innings and said: “I was getting frustrated. I was going out there, trying to hold up an end and I was facing quite a few balls, but probably only getting two runs and then getting out. That’s not really a contribution.
“I’ve been working with our batting coaches and, of course ‘Mags’ [head coach Anthony McGrath]. I probably took it upon myself when I went away with England. Their approach to batting down the order is a little bit different. They like to be more aggressive, play more shots and try and make a significant contribution.
“I worked with some of the coaches there, and did a lot with [assistant England coach] Paul Farbrace, who is really good. He worked on a few things that went well and helped get me moving a little better.
“Runs down the order are very valuable and I want to get selected in that Test squad. I think if I can start contributing down the order for Essex, that’s definitely going to help my cause.”
That Sam Cook chipped in with a career-best 14 in the previous match against Hampshire acted as a spur.
“He’s put me under pressure for that number 10 spot,” added Porter. “I had to find an answer and thankfully I got some runs and gave myself some breathing space.”
Porter contributed 31 of the 51 runs in the ninth-wicket partnership with Ravi Bopara in a 36-ball stay at the wicket as Essex made Surrey bat again, albeit briefly.
“We agreed that if we were just going to block and bat time, eventually there would be a ball with my name on it. Runs were more important. It was a situation where we had nothing to lose, we were so far behind the game, and were never going to get back in it,” he said.
“They were putting the field up for Ravi, and there were plenty of opportunities for me to score, so we decided to take as many runs as we could. I decided that anything full I was going to have a go, if it was short I was just going to get out of the way.”
The ball with ‘Porter’ stamped on it duly arrived, but not before he moved within three runs of the highest score of his career – 34 against Glamorgan in 2015. “I wasn’t really looking at that,” he said. “I got into a rhythm and kept going. If I got out, I got out; if I didn’t, then happy days.”
Back in the day job, Porter has 35 Championship wickets with three matches remaining – starting at Trent Bridge today against Nottinghamshire – to reach 50 for a fourth successive season.
“I haven’t really got a target, to be honest,” he added. “If I was bowling badly I probably would, but this game just gone [against Surrey] I don’t think I could have bowled any better and I only took two wickets.
“The ball’s coming out well, and I felt very good with my rhythm and everything so I’m feeling pretty confident about the remainder if the season. The most important thing as a team is that we’re winning and I want to contribute to that.
“We had our hearts on winning the title this season, and it is out of or hands now. Yes, we’re disappointed. But we’ve not been at our best. The challenge now is to see if we can finish in the top three. That is very realistic and we’re handily place and not in the worst position in the world to do that – especially if we can win this week at Notts.”
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