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After a full-on winter, Paul Walter wants to make bigger impact for County Championship Division One champions Essex in 2018

PUBLISHED: 18:00 11 April 2018

Essex players pose for a team photograph in Specsavers County Championship kit (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Essex players pose for a team photograph in Specsavers County Championship kit (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

The all-rounder, who earned a professional contract in June 2016, whilst with Hornchurch, is determined to show more improvement this year

Paul Walter and Jamie Porter in Barbados (pic Essex CC)Paul Walter and Jamie Porter in Barbados (pic Essex CC)

Paul Walter is aiming to make a big impact for Essex this season after a busy and yet productive winter away from the club.

The 23-year-old has been to South Africa, played in the North-South series in Barbados and spent further time in the Caribbean with the county champions.

It has proven to be a productive time for the former Hornchurch all-rounder and he is excited about the start of the campaign.

Reflecting on his time away from Chelmsford, Walter said: “I was on the ECB pace programme, so I was up in Loughborough.

“Then I went to South Africa, from there I was on the North-South series in Barbados and where the (Essex) boys were out there already, I joined up with them after.

“It has been a full-on winter, but I’m feeling good and strong. I’m happy with where I am, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it.”

Walter has enjoyed a surreal two years as this time in 2016 he was preparing for the new Essex League Premier Division with Hornchurch.

Now he is one of several young, up-and-coming bowlers in Anthony McGrath’s squad and after playing eight first-class games since signing for Essex in June 2016, Walter is out to earn more opportunities this season.

He added: “It has obviously been a good two years since I joined. We won Division Two and then Division One last season.

“It has been pretty surreal, but I’m looking forward to this season and hopefully making a big impact.”

The tall left-arm seamer showed his pedigree in the North-South series, despite a 2-1 defeat for his South team.

Walter started the first match and played his part in a 63-run triumph for the South – taking 2-45 from seven overs – and although they lost the second, he took 3-67 from his nine overs.

He didn’t feature in the decider, which North won, but enjoyed the series in Barbados, remaining there to link up with Essex.

“The North-South series was a good experience and it was great to play alongside different players,” said Walter. “Unfortunately we lost 2-1, but I learned a lot from it.

“It was good fun in Barbados. The first couple of weeks I was there on the North-South series and then I had good fun with the (Essex) boys.

“Now I’m looking forward to cracking on. The new season has been a long time coming and hopefully the weather can hold up and we can get out there.”

After playing five times in Essex’s successful Division One campaign, Walter will aim to increase his first-class appearances this term and also continue to show his quality in List A and T20 fixtures.

The all-rounder, who is also registered to play for Billericay when available, feels he has improved a lot.

He said: “I definitely feel like I’m a better cricketer now compared to 12 months ago. You can always learn every year.

“I’m relatively early in my career, so there are a big couple of years ahead of me and I need to make sure I improve and get myself to where I want to be.”

New Essex head coach McGrath will be the man tasked with developing the likes of Walter and other youngsters in the camp.

The departure of Chris Silverwood was a tough one for the County Ground outfit to take, but having McGrath step up from assistant has made the process slightly easier for everyone.

“I think it has been a pretty smooth transition and obviously ‘Mags’ was a big part of the last two years anyway,” said Walter.

“I haven’t been at the club too much over the winter because we’ve all been away, but it seems like him and new assistant Dimi (Mascarenhas) have settled in really nicely.

“We are all looking forward to the season now and I’m sure they are both looking forward to showing everyone what they can do and getting us out there and hopefully winning the Championship again.”

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