Wheater forces move to Hampshire
Adam Wheater, the highly-rated wicketkeeper batsman, has bought himself out of the final year of his contract with Essex and will move to Hampshire with immediate effect on a two-year deal.
Wheater, 23, has been looking for other opportunities for some time. ESPNcricinfo revealed in September that he was in talks with Hampshire, among other clubs, but Essex were refusing to let him leave before the end of the 2013 season.
He was expected to start the season in Essex's side as a batsman but had become the county's third choice wicketkeeper behind long-standing James Foster and England Lions' keeper Ben Foakes.
Wheater feels he will have a much greater opportunity to take the gloves at Hampshire and is expected to displace Michael Bates.
If that is the case, Bates, 22, may consider himself unfortunate. While the 22-year-old is a batsman of modest ability - first-class average of 19.66 - he is an exceptional wicketkeeper. He played a pivotal part in Hampshire's CB40 success last season, taking the final ball stood up to the stumps against the pace of Kabir Ali. He has taken 102 catches in 33 first-class games.
But Hampshire manager Giles White insisted Wheater would have to earn his place: "No assurances or promises have been made to Adam but we are delighted that he has chosen to pursue his career at Hampshire.
"He will add competition with the gloves and comes with an impressive first-class batting average. We have experienced, first-hand, that he is a young player with great ability and we hope that he is able to fulfil his potential and build on what has been a bright start to his career."
Wheater, who attended Millfield School in Somerset, scored 462 first-class runs from the middle order at 35.35 in 2012.
"Over the winter months, Adam made it very clear that he would like to progress his wicketkeeping," Essex head coach, Paul Grayson, said. "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."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo