Wheater funds Hampshire switch
Wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Wheater has joined Hampshire on a two-year deal, having bought out the last year of his contract with Essex.
The 23-year-old had limited wicketkeeping opportunities due to Essex captain James Foster being first-choice gloveman. The emergence at Chelmsford of another wicketkeeper-batsman, England Lion Ben Foakes, further undermined Wheater’s cause.
Wheater has therefore moved to Hampshire where he will vie for the gloves with Michael Bates, who is a year his junior.
Bates is an excellent gloveman but has struggled as a batsman, with single-figure List A and Twenty20 career batting averages and a first-class equivalent of 19.66.
Wheater, however, who has made many of his Essex appearances as a specialist batsman, boasts a first-class average of 39.09 and better limited-overs batting statistics than Bates.
Essex head coach Paul Grayson said Wheater was assured of being first-choice keeper at his new county, but Hampshire manager Giles White explained this is not so.
White, who saw Wheater score 98 versus his side in the LV= County Championship last season, said: "Adam 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.”
"Contrary to reports, no assurances or promises have been made to Adam but we are delighted that he has chosen to pursue his career at Hampshire."
Grayson said: “Over the winter months, Adam made it very clear that he would like to progress his wicketkeeping. He is the third-choice keeper at Essex behind James Foster and Ben Foakes, and Hampshire have given him assurances that he will be their first-choice at the club.
“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.
“I would like to thank Adam for his contribution to Essex over the years and we wish him the best of luck for the future.”
Essex chairman Nigel Hilliard said: “This has been a difficult decision for the club. We take great pride in the players developed in our youth system and it is always sad when they have to leave to progress their careers.
“However, it is not practical to keep three wicketkeepers at one county and Adam now has the opportunity to fulfil his potential elsewhere. We wish him well.”
Essex-born Wheater spent five seasons with his home county, making his debut in 2008 versus Cambridge UCCE. Having played for Zimbabwe team Matabeleland Tuskers over the previous two English winters, he has been keeping wicket for Northern Districts in New Zealand this winter.
On his move to the Friends Life t20 and Clydesdale Bank 40 champions, Wheater said: "Signing with Hampshire has entered me into a new and exciting chapter in my career. As a club they've experienced a lot of recent success and I want to help continue that to repay the faith they've shown in me."
Wheater’s move caps a busy few days for Essex, who earlier today signed Shaun Tait for this year’s Friends Life t20 and on Wednesday announced contract extensions for Owais Shah and Ryan ten Doeschate.