Paul Walter waiting in wings for time to prove worth for Essex after playing part in County Championship Division Two title triumph
PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 October 2016
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22-year-old Hornchurch all-rounder made his first-class debut in August and enjoyed a fine breakthrough campaign for his county club
It has been a crazy 10 months for Paul Walter and although a lot of his hard work has begun to pay off, the talented all-rounder is hoping to get even more opportunities in 2017.
The 22-year-old spent some of the winter months in Dubai training with Essex in the hope of impressing them enough to earn a professional contract.
Fast forward to June and the Hornchurch cricketer had signed his first professional contract with the County Championship club and only last month he agreed a new one-year extension to take his deal into 2018.
Walter played seven times in the NatWest T20 Blast and also got two opportunities to play in Division Two, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
“It was great to be around the squad towards the end of the season and the reason I didn’t play too much was because I had a little ankle injury,” he said.
“We got on a really good run and we won three games in a row and that was important. That doesn’t normally happen in the County Championship.
“And then it was great to do it (clinch the title) at home against Glamorgan. It was kind of mixed emotions in the dressing room because some of the guys were retiring, but it was a brilliant moment for the club.”
Ryan ten Doeschate hit the crucial runs for Essex to secure the title and promotion with a game to spare.
But as Walter alluded to, next season they will have to compete in the top tier without some crucial players after Graham Napier and David Masters bowed out with stunning swansong campaigns at the County Ground.
Essex will be missing a lot of experience without that duo, but Walter is hopeful he can step up, adding: “It is a big blow that they’re both retiring and they’ve been unbelievable servants to the club.
“They deserve all the plaudits that come their way and any success they get for all the wickets they’ve taken. It is big shoes to fill, but I’m definitely up for the challenge.”
Walter demonstrated his ability and potential during his first-class debut at Derbyshire in August as he smashed 47 off 55 balls batting at number 10, before finishing with 3-44 from 14 overs in Derbyshire’s first innings and then taking 1-68 as the visitors won by an innings and 62 runs.
“It was my first first-class match and it was great to win and actually contribute to the team,” added Walter.
“At times it was a slog because the pitch was very slow and it really was a slog trying to get the 20 wickets, but such a good feeling when we did.”
The Hornchurch all-rounder got another opportunity in the final match of the season at Kent, but finished without any scalps this time around.
Walter admitted it did take him a little while to get used to the first-class format, although he thoroughly enjoyed it.
He added: “It definitely gets easier and you have to just get used to your body feeling knackered! Once you get into the swing of things you forget all about it and after 10 minutes it leaves your mind.”
After a peripheral role during Essex’s triumphant 2016 campaign, Walter sounds determined to play a bigger part in Division One in 2017.