Essex ace Jamie Porter eager to help deliver more county success after tough times
PUBLISHED: 18:00 12 April 2018
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The Leytonstone-born seamer claimed 75 scalps last season, but has endured some difficult moments since the title success
It is safe to say Jamie Porter will not forgot the 2017 campaign for a long time, but the Essex bowler is more concerned about club success this year rather than personal achievements.
The seamer, who was born in Leytonstone, claimed 75 wickets last season as Chris Silverwood’s team were crowned Division One champions less than 12 months after winning promotion.
Porter’s exploits saw him earn a call-up to the England Lions squad which was heading out to Australia for November and December.
Unfortunately, an unexpected stress fracture in his back ended any hopes of him gatecrashing the England Ashes squad, but he is fighting fit again now and ready to help the champions show last season was no fluke.
Yet after taking a stunning tally of 75 scalps in 2017, the ex-Fives & Heronians youngster isn’t setting any big personal targets – he just wants to help keep the Eagles soaring this year.
“I wouldn’t say last season is a benchmark,” said Porter.
“For me my benchmark is just to always contribute to winning and our success. If I can do that then I will be doing well.
“We need to make sure we keep improving as a side and we don’t want to look too far ahead. We need to take every game as it comes and try to win every game we can.”
Essex followed that method last season and it worked a treat, as they won 10 of their 14 County Championship Division One games to finish top of the table by an emphatic 72-point margin.
Things will be slightly different for the club in 2018 as head coach Chris Silverwood has since joined England’s coaching staff.
Anthony McGrath, Silverwood’s assistant for the last two seasons, has stepped up to replace him and received backing from last year’s leading wicket-taker.
When discussing the ‘new’ head coach, Porter said: “He was a big part of the changing-room culture with Chris and he has helped take us forward, so he is the perfect man for the job.”
A big positive for Essex is the fact McGrath knows exactly how difficult this season could be – the campaign after winning the title.
The 42-year-old spent his whole playing career at Yorkshire before taking up a coaching role at the club upon retirement and played a part in the White Rose winning back-to-back Division One titles in 2014 and 2015.
McGrath will now aim to help Essex do that this season and will no doubt lean on his experiences from his time at Headingley.
Porter believes the club have all the qualities in their group to challenge for the title again, but knows it will not be easy for the County Ground team.
He added: “We believe we have a squad which is good enough to – I wouldn’t say dominate, but to be there or thereabouts for the next five to six years at least and we want to do that.”
A fit and firing Porter will aid Essex’s attempts to try and make the 2017 success the first of many memorable times for this group.
He has plenty of motivation to back up his efforts from last year after struggling with injury over the winter months.
Even after returning from his ‘long and dull’ rehab, the England Lions tour to the West Indies was tough for other reasons as firstly the Caribbean surfaces were not as conducive to seam bowling as those in the UK and so it made for a difficult series.
Porter recorded figures of 2-47 and 0-11 in the first match against West Indies A, before 0-51 in the second as England Lions went 2-0 down in the series.
The 24-year-old didn’t play in the third fixture, then missed the one-day games with illness before joining the North-South series.
Again it proved challenging as Porter picked up one wicket in two North-South games, but he feels he has learned a lot.
He said: “I spent time with the ECB pace programme when I was getting back into bowling after my injury and we were able to drum in a few things I was keen to improve, so that was good.
“Then I flew out to Jamaica in January and had three-and-a-half weeks there and played two ‘Test’ matches, which was tough and hard work for the seam bowlers.
“We went to Antigua from there and we were 2-0 down, so we changed the side and I didn’t play in the last Test and then I was ill for the one-day games, so that was quite a long part of the trip.
“It was on to the North-South tour in Barbados afterwards and I played in two of the games and did okay, but I think I could have done better.”
Porter’s winter didn’t exactly go to plan, but it has only added to his drive for this season and he is determined get people talking about Essex victories again.