Porter: Essex feel invincible
PUBLISHED: 10:32 29 June 2019 | UPDATED: 10:39 29 June 2019
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When Jamie Porter put pen to an extended two-year contract this week, he said he wanted to win more titles with Essex; then, with typical bullishness, he suggested the next title could be sooner rather than later.
What's more, warming to his theme, Porter reckoned Essex could be sitting on top of the Specsavers County Championship by the time the Vitality T20 Blast lifts off in three weeks' time.
"We do feel invincible at the moment," said the right-arm seamer whose 28 wickets so far this season have helped the 2017 champions to within 13 points of leaders Somerset, despatched so handsomely at the start of the week.
With the contract fresh in his pocket, Porter added: "I feel very privileged to be in the position I'm in. I've come from a very simple background and I've experienced what life in the real world is like. Yes, [the contract] gives you a little bit of comfort, but it is more importantly about being with this group of guys, who I love playing cricket with, for another two years.
"I feel like we've got a side who can win more titles, and I certainly want to be part of that group."
With the Warwickshire fixture on July 13 flipped from waterlogged New Road to Chelmsford, it means Essex have another home game ahead of the high-summer T20 block.
Since they are on a roll of four successive wins at Fortress Chelmsford - six in seven going back to last season - the advantage of the venue change at this stage cannot be under-estimated.
"We've proved that we're very, very hard to beat at home, having an extra home game in this period can only help us," said Porter.
"This is probably the make-or-break part of the season, and if we can come out of this stretch of five back-to-back games - why not, say, with four wins and maybe a good draw - then I think we'll be sitting top of the league going into the T20. And that will be a very nice position to be in with four games to play."
Porter is hitting wicket-taking form at just the right time, not only claiming his 300th first-class career victim but sharing 16 of the Somerset wickets to fall with the fast-emerging Aaron Beard.
"It was quite a proud moment for me, getting the 300th wickets," dded the 26-year-old. "It's a weird one, to be honest. I guess my job is just to keep taking wickets and sometimes these milestones just creep up on you. I don't really work towards them, I just work towards putting in the best performances I can in every game and when they come up it's a massive privilege."
Beard swooped to nab the last three Somerset wickets to deny Porter the chance of taking 10 in a match for only the third time.
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Not that Porter was bothered, adding: "We don't really care who the individuals are who put in the performances as long as we're getting the wins. 'Beardy' deserved every one of those wickets. He's a great kid and it's nice to see him come in and not be fazed.
"It was potentially the biggest game we'll play all season in red-ball cricket, and he came in and took seven wickets in the match.
"Some of those balls were unplayable. Even I dream of some of the balls he bowled. The thing that really excites me about 'Beardy' is he can bowl balls no one else can bowl. There's so much more to come from him.
"He has a very natural whip, so he will very rarely just bowl you a straight up-and-down delivery. He can swing it, he can create awkward angles, put the ball in nasty areas and ask questions of the batters."
Next up are bottom-of-the-table Nottinghamshire tomorrow before back-to-back home games against Yorkshire and Warwickshire.
Not that success at Trent Bridge will be taken for granted, as Porter said: "You look at their side on paper and there are some serious players. Things haven't gone their way, but that doesn't mean they're not capable of beating us next week. We need to make sure we're on the money."
*Essex have confirmed that Varun Chopra will join Sussex on a three-match loan deal for two Specsavers County Championship games and a first-class tourist game versus Australia 'A' only.
With the Essex Eagles' Vitality Blast campaign due to start at Lord's on July 18, both Chopra and head coach Anthony McGrath see this opportunity as perfect preparation for the forthcoming white-ball tournament.
Chopra said: "This opportunity has come at the perfect time for me as I look to get some time in the middle prior to the start of the Vitality Blast.
"As a professional cricketer, I want to play competitive cricket, so I am confident that this agreement will help both Sussex and Essex in the coming weeks as I get some game time under my belt."
McGrath added: "We are lucky that we have been able to build such a strong squad of talented players which makes it difficult to accommodate everyone in the starting XI.
"This loan will allow Varun to hit the ground running and prepare for the Blast. I'm sure Chops will be throwing his hat in the ring for a starting place come the opening game of the competition at Lord's next month, as well as the important run-in to the conclusion of the Championship season."
Chopra will begin his loan deal during the Championship match versus Northamptonshire on Sunday here he could face another Essex team-mate, Matt Coles, who is also currently out on loan.
He will also be eligible to play in the Championship match versus Lancashire and the Tourist match versus Australia 'A' before returning to The Cloudfm County Ground on July 17 in time for the start of this year's Vitality Blast.