Adam Wheater, Essex’s young match-winner when they thrashed previously unbeaten County Championship second division leaders Northamptonshire by 171 runs at Chelmsford, has spoken about the value of time spent playing cricket in Zimbabwe last winter.
The 21-year-old wicketkeeper batsman, who featured for Matabeleland Tuskers in the domestic league last season, hit the highest score of his career and his first century for Essex during their second innings, and also featured in a county record sixth wicket partnership with captain James Foster.
Wheater’s 164 beat his previous best of 126 made in February this year when playing for the Logan Cup champions Tuskers.
His record 253-run alliance with Foster broke the previous county best of 206 set in 1923 and equalled in 1962.
Wheater said the experience of playing in Zimbabwe last winter has improved his game. “The beauty from a professional point of view was that I got another season under my belt rather than waiting for the English summer to come around and I felt I also developed my character,” he added.
“I worked hard out there and learned a lot from working with different coaches and players and the experience of playing in all formats of the game. It put me in good stead for our domestic season and I have a lot to thank them for.”
Wheater played under former Zimbabwe captain and coach Dave Houghton last season and helped the Bulawayo-based franchise with the premier first-class domestic competition, the Logan Cup, last season.
Wheater arrived at the crease with his side on 49 for 4 but, by the time he left the middle, Essex had moved into a powerful position at 316 for 6.
His century arrived from just 95 balls including a six and 18 fours and, by the time he was dismissed, he had faced a further 48 balls and collected three more sixes and another four fours.
“I decided to play positively from the start which is the way I’ve been playing this season. It’s worked for me so I saw no reason to change my approach really,” added Wheater.
“It’s nice to get my name in the record books with Fozzie who played really well and, probably, the partnership changed the game and put us in a good position to go on to win the match.
“There’s a lot of championship cricket still to be played but, if we can get a few more wins, then things can change around very quickly and we could yet be in the promotion shake-up.”