Porter has been fundamental to Essex's success in recent years
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Jamie Porter will celebrate his 28th birthday later this month and the right-arm fast bowler, who made his first appearance late in September 2014, has now taken 361 first-class wickets in 93 matches including 19 victims in 7 matches for England Lions.
He has been one of the fundamental reasons for an Essex era of success that has seen them win them three red-ball titles in four years carrying off the County Championship crown in 2017 and 2019 plus the Bob Willis Trophy (the Championship’s replacement) in 2020.
With such an impressive personal record, it would be easy to think that the path into the first-class game was straightforward for the engaging Leytonstone-born cricketer.
However, not so as he had to overcame several knockbacks in his formative years before realising his dream of carving out a career in the professional game.
Jamie, who started his club career with Fives and Heronians before moving onto Chingford, explained. “I had been with the younger age groups at Essex, then with the Academy at Middlesex and played for the MCC Young Cricketers but never got the opportunity beyond that, so I decided to go off and just play cricket for fun.
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“I went and worked for a recruitment agency and as a number of mates were playing at Chingford, I joined them. Frankly, at that stage, I wasn’t feeling too serious about my game.
“To be honest, I’d put thoughts of being a professional cricketer to one side because I’d spent a long time trying to break into the game but things just hadn’t happened for me.”
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But the move to Chingford was to prove defining. Jamie took 33 wickets @ 13 apiece in 2014 helping the Club win their first-ever Essex Premier League title and during that season, a call came his way from Barry Hyam (in charge of the Essex Second XI) that was to alter his life.
“I suppose it was a classic example of getting an opportunity when you least expect it,” he explained.
“Barry offered me a chance to play for the Essex second team, I accepted and took a week’s leave from the Recruitment Agency although I hadn’t been there long.
“Anyway, I bowled okay in the match, nothing special but Barry rang me soon afterwards and asked if I wanted to play every week. I did but I needed to know that a contract would be offered to me provided I did enough to earn it. He reassured me, so I went into work the next morning and by lunchtime, I’d quit!
“I was fortunate to be able to take the opportunity because I’d saved enough money to get me through the summer.
“So I started to play regularly for the seconds, Barry seemed satisfied with my efforts but told me, “You are doing okay, taking 2 and 3-fers but it’s the 5-fers that make the difference.
“The next day, I took 8 wickets in an innings!”
That was the launchpad he needed to live the dream of being a professional cricketer.
He soon made his first team debut playing the final three matches of the 2014 season and proved something of a talisman with Essex winning all three games by an innings.
Jamie Porter had finally cracked it.
From thereon, he became an integral member of the first team squad and year on year, his tally of victims grew by 50 or more each season including a stellar campaign in 2017 when he bagged 75 wickets crucially assisting Essex to their first County Championship title in 25 years.
Recognition followed when he was named as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year and in the summer of 2018, he was selected in England’s squad to play India in the First Test only to be omitted from the starting line-up.
The call to arms for a full Test cap still awaits but the Essex new ball ace has not given up hope.
“I’d love the opportunity, but I’ve learned to deal with setbacks over the years and when you see what’s happened and been happening in the world with Covid, it puts everything into perspective,” he insisted.
“The important thing for me right now is to enjoy my cricket, be satisfied with my performances and play my part in helping the side to further successes.”