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Wagner bolsters Essex's Division One bid

Neil Wagner impressed during a spell with Lancashire in 2016 Getty Images

Essex have added Neil Wagner to their ranks for 2017 as they look to compete on their return to Division One. Wagner will fill the main overseas role for the first half of the season, playing Championship and 50-over cricket, before the arrival of Mohammad Amir.

Wagner, the New Zealand left-armer, had a successful spell at Lancashire last season, helping them to briefly top the table as he picked up 32 wickets at 29.28. He will add experience to Essex's attack after the retirements of Graham Napier and David Masters earlier this year.

"I really enjoyed my time in England with Lancashire last season, but I am excited about linking up with Essex and building on the team's success in 2016," Wagner said. "I want to bring my experience to the team and help us win games. I hope to help the squad get off to a good start in both competitions."

Wagner, who only plays Tests for New Zealand, is expected to be available for all of the Royal London Cup group stage and up to eight Championship matches, depending on when Amir joins up with Essex after the Champions Trophy.

Chris Silverwood, the head coach, had been looking to bolster his pace-bowling stocks after losing Napier and Masters, who took 103 wickets between them as Essex claimed the Division Two title. Jamie Porter, 23, has an impressive record but 2017 will be his first taste of Division One cricket, while Essex will hope Matthew Quinn and Matt Dixon continue to develop.

"Neil will bring vast experience at the highest level to the club, as well as a skill set that will be valuable in the opening months of the season," Silverwood said. "He performed excellently for Lancashire last year and is also useful with the bat lower down the order. Hopefully he can help us hit the ground running in 2017."