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Coles stars as Hants enforce follow-on
ADAM Wheater hopes Matt Coles joins Hampshire on a permanent basis next season.
Kent loanee Coles continued his impressive LV County Championship form with a haul of 6-71, the second-best return of his career, as Essex were bowled out for 207 in reply to Hampshire’s 456, before being asked to follow on.
Wheater ended his first season with a run-a-ball 122 that fired Hampshire to maximum batting points at the Ageas Bowl for the first time since April.
Then 23 year-old all-rounder Coles ran through the Essex line up. It was missing Owais Shah, who has just retired from first-class cricket, as well as Ravi Bopara (rested) and Ryan ten Doeschate (Champions League).
But that should not detract from Coles' performance.
A week after taking 5-75 against Leicestershire at Grace Road, he bowled with pace, aggression and just enough movement.
He set the right tone by dismissing the Essex openers in his first five overs, Jaik Mickleburgh losing his middle stump before former India Test star Gautam Gambhir was caught behind. Other notable scalps included James Foster and Graham Napier.
James Tomlinson’s 2-55 means he is only needs one more wicket to reach 50 in a season for the second time.
Wheater hopes Hampshire’s leading wicket-taker gets to share the new ball with former England Lions man Coles again next year.
He said: “We would obviously welcome Colesy, he’d be a good signing and hopefully that’s not far away.
“It’s tough to go on loan and perform, he’s bowled on some fairly flat wickets, but has bowled some quick balls and is only going to get better.
“He’s shown his potential with bat and ball and is a great character in the changing room so he’s fitted in nicely.”
Coles was restricted to a four-over spell when Essex were asked to follow on under floodlights. They closed on 44-0 but their former teammate’s century means they are still 205 behind.
Wheater’s second Hampshire hundred, following his 140 against Lancashire at Southport last month, has ensured an encouraging end to his first season with the county.
He said: “I’ve lacked a bit of fluency throughout the season, I’ve been slightly inconsistent and guilty of getting in and out quite quickly, so it was nice to get a hundred in this game, especially as it was against Essex, and hopefully it’ll help get us a win this time.”
Wheater capitalised on some wayward Sajid Mahmood deliveries after beginning the second day on 82.
“It’s a good wicket, the run-rate’s showed that throughout the game,” he continued, before revealing he would be happy to play as a specialist batsman more often next season, following Michael Bates’ recall for the last few Championship matches.
“This season’s been a huge learning curve and I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of keeping wicket but as long as I’m playing I’m really not fussed," he said. "Batesy’s a very good keeper so I wouldn’t be disappointed with that.”
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