CRICKET: Essex’s Paul Walter is keeping busy over the off season as he bids to hold down a place in the team across all formats for the new season.

The Basildon-born all-rounder, who plays for Billericay Cricket Club, recently put pen-to-paper on a contract extension to the end of 2019.

And, having been involved in the England Pace Programme, Walter is now gearing up for the three-match 2018 North-South series to be played in Barbados in March - having been selected for the South team.

“It’s been pretty full-on since the end of last season,” the 23 year-old admitted. “I was involved in the England Pace Programme last November, then I went to Desert Springs for five days and I’ve also been spending a lot of time up at Loughborough.

“It was a real pleasant surprise to get selected [for the North-South series] and hopefully, I can make my mark on the series and maybe put my name in the hat for selection for the Essex game against the MCC that follows.

“Things have been going well for me in the last couple of seasons.

“I think I did okay in the one-day matches last year and I’m hoping to re-create that and go on to better things.

“I made a few worthwhile contributions but the target is to be more consistent in my all-round game in white ball cricket and carry that over into the Championship.

“Its been a really two good years for Essex having won promotion in 2016 and then the title last year.

“I’ve been delighted to get opportunities to be a part of those successes.

“But you always have to be ready to grasp those chances when they do come along and do yourself justice.”