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Wheater forces move to Hampshire

George Dobell

March 1, 2013

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Adam Wheater plays the hook shot, Surrey v Essex, County Championship, Division Two, Whitgift School, 1st day, May 18, 2012
Adam Wheater averages 39.09 in first-class cricket © PA Photos
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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

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Posted by DaveMorton on (March 1, 2013, 16:18 GMT)

Astonishing. An average of 20 with the bat is not terrible for a young lad at the start of a career. Bates made an excellent century against Yorkshire at Headingley, as well as performing beautifully with the gloves. I've not seen Wheater keep wicket (not many have) but I don't think he's a budding Bopara with the bat either. [0 & dnb in draw at Headingley, 16 & 19 in defeat at Chelmsford, to compare like with like. Bates 103 & dnb, dnb & dnb in Root's double-century game at Southampton - rain, rain, rain, believe me, it was wet.]

Posted by   on (March 1, 2013, 16:15 GMT)

Worth a mention that he has been playing and keeping in NZ all winter for Northern Districts?! And by the looks of it, not getting many ( wracked up a pair in second last game)

Agree with Andy Plowright regarding Wheater keeping in FC and Bates in 1 day. Bates will not be discarded as he is highly rated at Hants, fine gloveman!

Posted by   on (March 1, 2013, 15:54 GMT)

Seems like keepers are the flavour of the month... not only will Wheaters move perhaps prompt Bates to look elsewhere, there's the Buttler and Kieswetter affair down at Somerset. Some interesting developments in the offing.

Posted by   on (March 1, 2013, 15:49 GMT)

I have a feeling Hampshire will go with two wicketkeepers. Wheater will get the gloves for FC matches and Bates will get the limited overs action. Wheater has done little really with the bat in limited overs cricket so is hardly firming up things there and Bates hasn't really been needed with the bat in T20 cricket especially in his career but offers better glovehandling skills for the shorter version of the game. Having two keepers focused on different forms of the game makes sense to me. It's not much different to the situation down at Somerset now Kieswetter and Buttler are vying for the gloves.

Posted by Munkeymomo on (March 1, 2013, 15:12 GMT)

That's a bit of a shame actually, Michael Bates is a top keeper, I hope he still gets game time. Also, didn't realise Wheater was a Millfield boy. That place churns 'em out.

Posted by   on (March 1, 2013, 14:32 GMT)

Good move from Wheater. James Foster isn't going anywhere for a while at Essex, and Michael Bates' batting is nowhere near as good as Wheater's. I'm amazed Hampshire didn't look for another keeper sooner, a first-class average of under 20 for a wicketkeeper is really not good enough.

Posted by emmersonne on (March 1, 2013, 14:01 GMT)

As a Hampshire fan, I feel a little aggrieved on Michael Bates' behalf. He is a cracking keeper who was progressing well with the bat, too.

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