Essex all-rounder Paul Walter impresses against the West Indies
Paul Walter underlined his burgeoning reputation as an all-rounder of considerable promise with starring performances with both bat and ball as the tourist match against the West Indians at Chelmsford petered out into a draw.
The left-hander, 23, rescued Essex from humiliation with his highest first-class score and then dismissed the first two batsmen when the West Indians batted again, 153 runs ahead. They had increased that notional lead to 288 when time was called on their batting practice with 20 overs remaining.
Walter had come in at 52 for five in the fifth over of the day – soon to be 56 for six – and was still there, 68 not out, when Essex declared just before three o’clock.
The player who signed his first professional contract little more than a year ago, faced 139 balls, hitting nine fours and a straight six off Devendra Bishoo that threatened the window of the radio commentary box and its occupants.
He had 50-run partnerships with Aron Nijar and Matt Dixon to tame a West Indian attack in which Kemar Roach finished with five for 43.
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With a ball in his hand, Walter has eased into the key third seamer position in the Essex attack in the absence of the injured Matt Quinn.
Despite spending 12 minutes shy of three hours in the middle with his pads on, he opened the bowling and took wickets with his sixth and seventh balls to finish with two for 14 from three overs.
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Walter had steadied an otherwise rudderless Essex ship that lost two wickets in the first eight overs of the third day to leave them 56 for six. The fifth wicket fell when an outswinger from Jason Holder found the edge of Callum Taylor’s bat and Kyle Hope dived across from third slip to take the catch in front of the man to his left.
Hope took his third catch of the innings to end Nick Browne’s near-two-hour stay at the crease.
The left-hander face another 24 balls during the first 35 minutes of play without advancing his overnight score of 16. Roach induced the edge from the 76th ball of Browne’s watchful innings to claim his fourth wicket.
Walter was then joined in a 50-run stand for the seventh wicket in 52 minutes by Aron Nijar that took the Essex total past 100, a total that had looked beyond them at one point.