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Reluctant batsman Wheater makes maiden double-ton

Warwickshire 131 for 3 (Trott 59*) trail Hampshire 531 (Wheater 204*, Ervine 75, Poysden 4-85) by 400 runs
Scorecard

For someone who does not see himself as a specialist batsman, Adam Wheater managed a fairly convincing impression of a cricketer with a considerable future in the role as Hampshire amassed their largest total in a Championship match in almost three years.

Dropped by Hampshire at the end of May when first-team coach Dale Benkenstein decided he wanted 21-year-old Lewis McManus to take over as wicketkeeper, Wheater marked his second appearance since being recalled only as a batsman with a maiden double-hundred that showcased qualities he perhaps doubted he had.

Naturally an aggressive hitter, strong on both sides of the wicket, Wheater turned his overnight 89 into a 147-ball century inside the first half hour, following a slightly delayed start, before taking advantage of an overworked Warwickshire attack to advance to 200 in just 79 deliveries more.

He gathered 27 fours and hit three sixes, two of them off Keith Barker, who with Rikki Clarke willingly shouldered the extra burden created by Boyd Rankin's absence with back spasms but found himself flagging at times on a pitch that remained stubbornly unresponsive.

Wheater passed his previous best when he moved on from 164, the score he made for Essex against Northamptonshire in 2011, and went to 200 by reverse sweeping Jeetan Patel, whose stamina was also heavily tested in a series of long spells that added up to 48 overs in total.

Wheater, who left Essex in 2013 to further his ambitions with the gloves, has found himself relieved of his duties behind the stumps for the second time since making the move, having previously had to make way for Michael Bates.

Benkenstein now wants McManus to have an extended run, feeling that he brings more energy to the role and at the same time considers Wheater should focus on developing as a specialist batsman.

"I rate Wheats' batting but I've given him a very long run as a keeper and don't feel he's improved in a few areas I think are very important," Benkenstein said recently. "But as a batter he's still very young with a huge career ahead of him. Our top order are quite short of runs and he's got a real chance of making his way in this team as a batter."

Wheater begs to differ, insisting that he wants to contribute more than one discipline to the team effort and that he will fight to win back the gloves again.

"I was disappointed [with the decision] and the hierarchy at Hampshire know I want to keep," he said. "I didn't see that I was doing much wrong. I see myself as a keeper-batsman. I can't bowl and I don't just want to just be fielding. But having said that, when they asked me to play as a batsman in the top six I was going to take that rather than playing in the seconds. I feel I have battled to get back to where I was a couple of years ago with my batting and I feel in a good place.

"That's my role now, to score runs and it gives me a lot of satisfaction to be able to contribute as I have in this match. But things change quickly in cricket and as far as keeping is concerned all I can do is take any opportunity that comes along."

Wheater passed 5000 first-class runs during his partnership runs with Sean Ervine, who coincidentally reached the milestone of 10,000 during their 144-run stand for the sixth wicket.

When Ervine chipped Patel straight to short extra cover to be out for 75, however, it precipitated an unforeseen flurry of wickets -- five in the space of 20 deliveries with only nine more runs added -- and reward for Patel and Josh Poysden, the young legspinner, who picked up the last three for career-best figures of 4 for 85.

"Losing Boyd through injury was tough but we worked really hard as a unit," Poysden said. "I thought we kept going and kept fighting and to get the last five wickets for nine runs was really nice as we finally got what we deserved.

"On days one and two in first-class cricket you are not really expecting it to spin so I knew they were going to come quite hard at me when I bowled but that gives me a chance to get wickets so I never mind that."

Warwickshire's reply got off to a stuttering start, Andrew Umeed leaving a ball from Gareth Andrew that came back and clipped off stump before Ian Bell played inside one from Gareth Berg, at which point 11 for 2 on the scoreboard would have been a considerable fillip for a makeshift Hampshire attack.

Andrew claimed another success at the start of his second spell as Varun Chopra played down the wrong line but Jonathan Trott and Sam Hain added an unbroken 53 for the fourth wicket. Trott might have been out on 59 near the close, giving a chance off Berg that McManus might have taken had he been standing further back.