Adam Wheater reflected on his first few days as a Hampshire player and revealed: It’s like visiting my mates.
The former England under-19 wicketkeeper was unveiled at the Ageas Bowl on Friday and will compete with Michael Bates for the gloves this term.
A protracted switch to the south coast was sealed when Wheater bought his way out of the final year of his contract at Essex, where he had seen opportunities dry up.
His decision to draw stumps on a lifelong association with the Chelmsford-based outfit was not easy.
But the 23-year-old revealed the presence of a host of familiar faces at the Ageas Bowl convinced him there was life after Essex.
Having played under-19 internationals with the likes of Liam Dawson, Hamza Riazuddin, Chris Wood, James Vince and Danny Briggs, he was confident he would feel at home on the south coast.
And he has admitted he has already been on the receiving end of some banter – after striking 98 against Hampshire last term, only to be last man out with his side still two runs short of victory.
Wheater said: ‘The bowlers here have already reminded me of it. I was disappointed I didn’t win the game for Essex but I guess it probably doesn’t make a difference now.
‘The move has been a fairly easy transition.
‘Whenever I have played against Hampshire it has been like coming to see my mates anyway.
‘It is the same now, so it was quite easy to make the move.
‘The fact they are all here was a big draw – after all, you are in each other’s pockets for six months of the year.
‘But I know I am on the same wavelength as some of those guys.
‘And they always speak about Hampshire in such high regard.’
Wheater has been brought in by Hampshire boss Giles White as competition for Bates, who kept wicket as the Royals landed a one-day double last term.
While the new recruit boasts a first-class average of 39.09, question marks still remain over Bates’ ability with the bat.
But Wheater has conceded he has work to do to match his rival’s skills behind the stumps, too.
‘I wouldn’t put my keeping in the same category as Michael,’ he said.
‘I would say he is a better wicketkeeper than me.
‘I believe I can reach that standard, though.
‘Ultimately it is down to how much you want it and how hard you train.
‘I am sure it will be a headache for the coaches come the start of the season.’