Yorkshire v Essex
Specsavers County Championship Division One - Preview
Sunday, August 6-9 - At Scarborough
Essex’s first Specsavers County Championship match for nearly six weeks provides Jamie Porter with another opportunity to show why he could be the Jimmy Anderson of the future.
Before the red-ball hiatus to accommodate the NatWest T20 Blast, Porter had made his debut for the England Lions and marked himself down as a seamer of considerable international potential.
Porter took three South Africa A wickets in each innings to add to the 33 that have helped Essex open a 29-point lead at the top of the Championship ahead of tomorrow’s four-day match against Yorkshire at Scarborough.
Looking back, Porter says: “The whole week with the Lions was an insight into what Test cricket might be like and I took a lot away from it. It was good to work again with Shiney [coach Kevin Shine]. We were able to revisit a few things that I can bring to the table and which might help me push for a Test place.
“It was great to walk out there to the nets and there was a bowling coach ready to work with you. It was nice to be able to get some good quality time on your own. Other times it can be too overcrowded. So this was a very good opportunity.
“I feel I’ve come back more confident. I feel I’ve been there, done that and done pretty well. It’s made me think, ‘Maybe I could play Test cricket for England’. It’s given me another little motivation, something else to push for.”
England’s established new-ball firm of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, already in their twilight years, can’t go on forever, and Porter has the ability to be in the vanguard of heirs apparent.
“That is what I want to be,” he says. “I want to be the next Jimmy Anderson. I’d love to be where he is now in 10 years’ time. That would be amazing. I just want to keep pushing towards, hopefully, getting called up for the Test side.
“If we as a group continue to do well in this division there will be more than just Tom [Westley] going up to the Test squad. Dan Lawrence will be there or thereabouts in the next couple of years, and hopefully I can kick on and give the selectors something to think about.”
Essex’s focus for the last month has been the shortest form of the game, but Porter’s natural home is in the Championship, and he admits: “It’s nice to get back to the format where I feel I can be the guy who puts his hand up and puts in a performance that can win us the game.
“I had the red-ball back in my hand this week and it felt fine, felt good, I bowled well, probably felt better than I have done for a while. I’m raring to go, I’m hungry.
“You don’t want to underestimate a side like Yorkshire who’ve been used to winning Championships in recent years, but if we win one more game, to make it six so far, that’s as many as Middlesex won last year to become champions. If we can win one of the next two, not lose, then we’ve got to feel really confident.”
Porter has had his first taste of T20 cricket this summer. It has been an illuminating experience. For a bowler whose overs go for around three and a half each in first-class cricket, to be thumped for 10 an over marked a steep learning curve.
He says: “I really enjoyed it to be honest and I’d like to do more. I felt I learnt lots as the competition went on. Each game I played I felt I got better. I can only improve and the more I play of it the better I’ll get.”
However, he added: “I don’t want to bowl to [Glamorgan’s Colin] Ingram again! I bowled an over to Ingram here where I nailed a wide yorker. And he struck me over midwicket for six. It was right on the wide line, perfect, exactly where I wanted to bowl it, and it’s not even gone over the off-side for six. There’s not a great deal I can do about that. I was just walking back to my mark thinking you’ve got to hand it to him. That was a special shot.”