County Cricket Round-Up - 1st March
Adam Wheater has finally succeeded in his battle to persuade his now former employers Essex to release him from his existing contract at Chelmsford. The 23 year-old, who is highly rated by many on the county circuit, had slipped to third in the wicket-keeping pecking order at Essex behind club captain James Foster and England Lion Ben Foakes, and has signed a two-year deal with Hampshire.
Wheater had been linked with a move to Hampshire at the end of last season and is not the first Essex wicket-keeper to be linked with the south coast club - they were reported as being keen on securing James Foster’s signature last winter. At first, Essex were reluctant to let Wheater, who has been with the club since his debut in 2008, go, but he has seemingly won them round and has bought himself out of his contract.
Essex Head Coach Paul Grayson said, “Over the winter months, Adam made it very clear that he would like to progress his wicket-keeping. He is the third choice keeper at Essex behind James Foster and Ben Foakes, and Hampshire have given him assurances that he will be their first choice at the club.
“It is always sad to lose a player you have nurtured from a young age but we understand that to progress his career in his preferred role in the team he will need to change club. I would like to thank Adam for his contribution to Essex over the years and we wish him the best of luck for the future.”
Essex’s proclamation that Wheater has been given assurances by Hampshire that he is to be their first choice wicket-keeper was later contradicted by Hampshire themselves, with team manger Giles White, saying, “Contrary to reports, no assurances or promises have been made to Adam but we are delighted that he has chosen to pursue his career at Hampshire.”
Nonetheless, it would appear that Wheater will displace Hampshire’s current gloveman, Michael Bates, in first-class cricket at least, due to his superior batting ability. Bates averages 19.66 in the longest form of the game compared to Wheater’s average of 39.09, one which has been achieved largely when playing as a specialist batsman. The best that Bates can realistically hope for is that his superb skills with the gloves will allow him to keep his place in Hampshire’s side at least in Twenty20 cricket.
Wheater has spent the winter playing for Northern Districts in New Zealand’s four-day Plunket Shield, where he has struggled, averaging 16 with the bat in six matches. Last winter was spent rather more productively in Zimbabwe with Matabeleland Tuskers.
Leicestershire are likely to announce the signing of an overseas player - according to The Cricketer, a current Australian international - to cover for Ramnaresh Sarwan sometime next week. Sarwan’s international career was thought to be over, leading him to sign a three-year contract with the club at the start of 2012. He was then made their four-day captain for the 2013 season. However, the Guyanese veteran received an unexpected recall to the West Indies squad for their tour of Australia and has since cemented his spot in their side with a century against Zimbabwe.
After the ongoing tour of Zimbabwe, Sarwan , should he be selected by the West Indies, will be unavailable during June because of the Champions Trophy and possibly then the first part of July because of a triangular tournament involving Sri Lanka and India in the Caribbean.
In other news from Grace Road, the club have agreed terms with former Zimbabwe, Gloucestershire and Middlesex seamer Anthony Ireland for 2013. Ireland joined Gloucestershire in 2007 after retiring from playing international cricket for Zimbabwe. He then moved to Middlesex in 2011 before being released towards the end of last season and returning to Gloucestershire for the final couple of months of 2012. He has since spent much of the close season training with the Leicestershire squad.
Essex have announced that former Australia fast bowler Shaun Tait will be their overseas player for the entirety of next season’s Friends Life t20, while Glamorgan have beaten off competition from several counties to sign Tait’s compatriot Dirk Nannes to fulfil an identical role.
36 year-old Nannes, who is the world’s leading Twenty20 wicket-taker will make Glamorgan his fourth county after Middlesex, Nottinghamshire and Surrey and, like Tait, makes a living as ‘freelance’ Twenty20 player.
Matthew Mott, Glamorgan’s head coach, was thrilled with Nannes’ signing, saying, "He was on the radar for a number of clubs and we are very happy to have secured his signature. We were looking for a strike and death bowler because they are like gold dust in T20 cricket. He is still one of the fastest bowlers in world cricket, and I am sure he will excite the public when he comes tearing in for Glamorgan."
Essex Head Coach, Paul Grayson, said of Tait, “Shaun is an outstanding Twenty20 bowler who has genuine pace and match-winning ability. We welcome him to the club for the Twenty20 campaign and are hopeful of success with him in the team.”
Warwickshire have signed Scotland international Freddie Coleman on a summer contract for the 2013 season. The 21 year-old is a product of Warwickshire’s academy and was recently awarded an incremental contract by Cricket Scotland.
Coleman will link up with Warwickshire following the completion of his studies at Oxford University. Last season, he won the Walter Lawrence Trophy for scoring the highest score by a MCCU batsman against county or other MCCU opposition for his 141 against Durham MCCU.
© Cricket World 2013
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