Porter not fazed by Sangakarra challenge


With a cricket ball in his hand, Jamie Porter fears no man. It will be the same today when the in-form Essex seamer takes on English cricket’s in-form batsman, Surrey’s Kumar Sangakkara, in the Specsavers County Championship at Chelmsford.

The veteran Sri Lankan has scored centuries in each of his last four Championship innings, with a Bradmanesque average of 98.67 in red-ball cricket this summer, and is within 87 of passing one thousand runs across all formats by the end of May.

Porter, meanwhile, has taken career-best bowling figures in each of the last two weeks, claiming five for 24 in the Championship thrashing of Hampshire at the weekend, preceded by four for 40 in the Royal London Cup against Middlesex.

Porter, therefore, will relish rather than be apprehensive when Sangakkara arrives at the crease second wicket down. “I think the game is a lot harder if you fear your opponents. It’s easier not to,” he says.

“He’s obviously one of the great players of the modern game. But he is someone I wouldn’t want to fear too much because then you put all your eggs in one basket. If you worry too much about one player, you forget about the other 10. And that can be dangerous.

“If you bowl enough balls in the right area, like you would to anyone else, you may get him out. All I can do is put the ball on the spot as many times as possible.”

Essex top the Championship, one point ahead of Surrey, and Porter has noticed no discernible difference between Divisions One and Two since promotion last year.

He said: “I found it quite frustrating the season before this, my second full season, when people said it would be hard to do as well as I had in my first season and take fifty wickets again. I just thought it was a load of rubbish.

“I was bowling at the same players in the same environment and I was still getting them out. I thought the same this year. I bowled at Test players in Division Two, so they are not going to be worse than the guys I bowl to in this division. When you bowl to Alastair Cook in the nets every day, there is no one harder in the world to get out than that man. So I kind of knew there was no real secret to doing well in this division.”

So does he get Cook out much in the nets? “I’d love to say yes,” he laughs, “but not very often, no. He doesn’t give much away.”

Essex switched around their bowling attack against Hampshire with Matt Quinn opening with Porter and Neil Wagner coming on first change. The new new-ball pair ripped through the Hampshire top-order with five first-innings wickets in 17 balls. “I think you look at where you’re going to get the most out of each bowler,” says Porter.

“With Quinny, you know if he bowls up top, maybe he won’t get the wickets Wags does, but he is going to give us control with the new-ball. That allows me to be a bit more aggressive and take wickets. Then you’ve got Wags following who can be equally as aggressive and pick up the wickets.

“We just complement each other nicely. And I think it is more of a compliment to Wags that he can come in with the older ball and be just as dangerous as he would be with the new one.”

Of his part in the demolition of Hampshire, Porter, 24 yesterday, says: “There wasn’t any secret to what I was trying to do. I was actually under a bit of pressure before that spell because a lot of the lads were coming off and saying, ‘This is your pitch’. And I thought, ‘What if I don’t come off?’

“Then I thought all I have to do is what I usually do and that’s try to hit the top of off. I looked at the Specsavers badge at the top of off-stump, and said, ‘I want to hit that every ball’.”

Porter’s efforts put his name in the headlines, but he says: “It was nice to get the five-fer, but in my head it means nothing if I can’t back it up this week. It’s no use being a one-in-five or one-in-two-or-three bowler – you’ve got to be able to do it every week. It is more important to me that I put a shift in this week and bowl well.”