Ton-up Wheater leads Essex against Durham students

PUBLISHED: 20:01 02 April 2017 | UPDATED: 20:01 02 April 2017

Adam Wheater in batting action for Essex against Durham MCCU (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Adam Wheater in batting action for Essex against Durham MCCU (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468

Durham MCCU (66-3) trail Essex (333) by 267 runs

Essex’s Adam Wheater made hay in the April sunshine at Chelmsford to stake an early claim for the wicketkeeper-batsman role he is contesting with James Foster this season.

Wheater, 27, who returned to Essex in September after four seasons with Hampshire, held together an under-par batting performance against Durham’s spirited students and made 102 from 130 balls, before taking a catch in the first over of Durham’s reply.

Only Wheater, Nick Browne and latterly Aaron Beard kept their heads in the traditional pre-season run-fest and reaped the rewards while wickets fell all around them.

Browne started circumspectly and took 14 balls to get off the mark, before punching a dozen boundaries in a pleasing 66.

However, an uncharacteristic rush of aggression accounted for him when he went to hit spinner Abhiras Singh over the top and holed out to deep mid-off.

At least Browne filled his boots while he could. By the time he was fourth out with the score on 126, he had already seen Varun Chopra (16) taken at second slip, Tom Westley trapped lbw third ball for a duck and Dan Lawrence (16) depart to a cross-batted swipe to mid-wicket.

Ravi Bopara hung around for 99 minutes for 39 before he charged spinner Singh and was stumped, but captain Ryan ten Doeschate went cheaply when prodding to cover.

Wheater kept the board ticking over, pulling Joe Cooke over mid-wicket for six, and reaching a belligerent century from 127 balls by chopping Xavier Owen for his 12th four.

But three balls later he spooned Freddy Simon to point and after that Beard’s highest first-class score of 58 not out, embracing 77 balls and nine fours, nudged Essex past 300, while Owen and Singh finished with three wickets apiece for the visitors.

Jamie Porter took two quick wickets in Durham’s reply, having Jack Clark snaffled by Wheater and beating Will Fraine for pace to hit the stumps, and Matt Dixon trapped Jason Marshall lbw as the students saw out the day on 66 for three.

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