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Paul Middlemiss20 Mar 2023 - 20:08
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New skipper is looking forward to the season ahead

After 15 years spending this time of year enduring pre-season training, February and March this year have been a little different for our new 1st XI skipper Adam Wheater.  Rather than a pre-season trip abroad or nets at Chelmsford it's been coaching at Ockendon, building sites and changing nappies for the former Essex wicket-keeper.

Having retired from First Class cricket in September after a career which included two County Championship winners medals, life has been anything but quiet for Adam, as he explained to us.

"It has been a busy time post cricket career, including the birth of my second child Ophelia.  I have been continuing to coach at the Club Cricket Academy and starting a new role in the construction industry as a trainee project manager. As well as all that, I have been booking a few trips away in the summer as a bit of a novelty factor, as it wasn't something I could do whilst being a professional cricketer."

During his professional career Adam scored more than 10,000 runs in all formats, playing in more than 450 professional games.  Those from this part of the world will remember most fondly Adam's time at Essex, where he started and finished his career, but he also spent four seasons playing for Hampshire, as well as spending some of his winters playing in New Zealand and Zimbabwe.  This winter has obviously been a little different, but with so much going on, missing out on his normal pre-season regime is not something that has been on Adam's mind, as he was quick to point out.

"I hadn't really given it to much thought until now.  But now you mention it, previously I would have been celebrating St Patrick's Day on a pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi about now.  So in that respect watching screed get poured into a basement in Parsons Green is a big change!! So far though I have thoroughly enjoyed my transition into the real world, and long may that continue."

For four winters now (aside from a few months off due to the Covid pandemic) Adam has been coaching the club's youngsters, either at Coopers School, or more recently at the Club Cricket Academy in Ockendon, and the former Essex keeper explained how this came about.

"It came about after a conversation with Oliver Peck (the Upminster Chair) at a Benefit Game at Upminster.  I expressed my interest in coaching and he mentioned that the club ran group classes out of Coopers School, and the rest is history."

Adam made his debut for the club on the final day of the 2022 season, and he marked the occasion with a brilliant century against Wickford, although that knock was somewhat overshadowed by that of Harry Jenkins who made a double ton.  Adam has been working with members of all of Upminster's senior squads since Christmas, but he was quick to point out that what goes on in the nets can be very different from what happens out on the field.

"Whilst I have seen a lot of the boys in the nets I haven't seen a lot of the Upminster team playing, which are two very different things.  So it's hard to say things like 'I'd be disappointed if we don't get promoted' without having more information.  My main goals for the season are to make sure we enjoy the season and enjoy each other's company as the cricket season is a huge commitment, giving up the majority of your Saturdays, so that is crucial.  My next goal is to ensure we are fully committed to working for each other and putting the team first.  If we are enjoying ourselves and putting the team first I am sure we will be in a strong place come the end of the season."

Over the past few seasons the club has seen a number of young players progress to play in the 1st XI, and there is a huge pool of talent in the club's junior ranks as can be seen by the results of our junior sides in recent years.  Adam is more aware of this than most, as he is so involved in the coaching at the club with Head Coach Scott Simmons, but when pressed on any youngsters who had caught his eye during the winter, the new skipper was careful not to single out too many individuals.

"That's a tough question, as I don't want to miss anyone out.  However, I have really liked the commitment shown by and the work ethic of Max Carter Miller who had previously been getting up and rowing on the Thames at 4.00am in the morning before work.  He has transferred that drive and determination into his bowling and I am really excited to see where that takes him this season.  Also, I really like the look of Callum Berry who is certainly a gifted athlete that can bowl, bat and field.  I really hope this can be a breakthrough season for him and I believe he will be an integral part of the Upminster 1st team."

With less than three weeks until the new season gets underway, we won't have to wait long to see how Adam and his new teammates perform this summer.  

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