Wheater ready for Hampshire challenge

ADAM WHEATER

ADAM WHEATER

First published in Sport Hampshire Chronicle: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Sports Reporter

HAMPSHIRE new boy Adam Wheater is looking forward to competing with Michael Bates for a first-team place.

The 23 year-old is hoping to replace Bates as Hampshire’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman after arriving from Essex.

Third-choice wicketkeeper with his home county, Wheater has been playing for Essex as a specialist batsman.

He believes his proven batting ability gives him a better chance of replacing Bates than Essex captain James Foster.

Wheater said: “I would say he (Michael Bates) is a better wicket-keeper than me...but it’s a bit different competing with the club captain who’s been performing for the last 20 years to someone like Batesy, who’s a lot younger and less experienced.

“I’ve known Batesy for a while, we played against each other for years in regional cricket, he’s a very good keeper and we’ve always got on well in the past.

“But every spot is there for the taking if players aren’t performing.”

Essex coach Paul Grayson claimed Wheater has been assured a first-team place by Hampshire following confirmation of the move last week.

Like Hampshire manager Giles White, Wheater has refuted that.

“I haven’t been given any assurances, I’m not sitting here with a definite spot for that first game but I’ll certainly be doing all I can to play for Hampshire.

“It’ll be for the coaches to decide come the start of the season, but I moved from Essex because I was just playing as a batter so if that happens it’ll be exciting.”

Wheater was also behind teenager Ben Foakes in Essex’s pecking order.

“I’d probably have more chance of playing [as a wicket-keeper] at 15 other counties than at Essex,” he continued. “But Hampshire is a fairly easy transition, it’s only 90-odd miles and whenever I‘ve played here it’s like coming to see my mates.

“That was a big draw as you’re in each others’ pockets for six months [as a county cricketer]. That’s why I didn’t pursue any other counties.

“There wasn’t a burning desire to get away from Essex because I’m an Essex boy. And there was a long persuasion process, from the committee to other staff and the coach and captain, assuring me they wanted me to play for Essex.

“That’s why it took five months to sign for Hampshire.”

Wheater, who has played for England Under-19s with the likes of Liam Dawson, Danny Briggs, James Vince and Hamza Riazuddin, will fly to Barbados with his new teammates for Hampshire’s pre-season tour this weekend.

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