Although he will not be claiming victims for England during the Ashes Test series in Australia, James Foster is set to complete a different type of catch in that country when he weds his Aussie fiancee, Tanya, on New Year’s Eve.
The former England wicket-keeper, who now combines his highly consistent glove-work with captaincy duties for Essex, will spend a couple of months Down Under before he returns to England to prepare for the new season. Then, apart from targeting an immediate return to Division One of the County Championship, the 30-year-old also has a benefit to enjoy.
“It’s certainly going to be a busy and exciting time, but it was a pretty hectic year in 2010,” said Foster. “Personally, it was a great time for me. At the start of the season my aim was just to knuckle down and contribute as well as I could towards the team, but then Mark Pettini decided to stand down from the captaincy and I was asked to take over.
“It was a great honour and privilege. I’m an Essex boy and came through the system and so it meant a lot to me to be asked to lead the side, and it came at a very good time in my career. I’ve really enjoyed the captaincy, although it was very disappointing that we were relegated, and now I want to lead us to promotion.”
Potentially, Foster could be in charge of two of the country’s most exciting batting talents – Ravi Bopara and Owais Shah – with both players shortly expected to commit themselves to Essex.
“I don’t think we are far away from completing contract arrangements with both players,” said the captain. “To have Ravi continuing with us will be superb, and the addition of Owais would be absolutely top-drawer. To have someone of his quality and experience is going to be such a huge boost to our club, not only for Championship cricket but also in the one-day competitions as well.
“The reason we struggled on a number of occasions last summer was because we didn’t get enough runs on the board, particularly in the last quarter of the season, and it was obvious we needed more consistency as a batting unit.
“We haven’t yet formally signed the two players but I’m optimistic they will both sign. Getting Owais would make such a difference to our batting and give us a very impressive batting line-up.”