Walker gives his nervous team-mates a batting lesson

Middlesex 356 & 47-3 Essex 345

While cricket followers across the land ponder the make-up of England's batting order, so one of the many talents to have slipped through the international net over the past decade reminded us once more that his days in the sun are not quite numbered.

While his club-mates Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara, both resigned to the dressing rooms here after Wednesday's batting failures, pondered whether Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott were among the runs at Trent Bridge, so diminutive left-handed batsman Matt Walker set about digging Essex out of a deep hole on day three of this basement battle.

The hugely likeable 35-year-old, a close-season signing from his native Kent, showed the England "wannabes" how it should be done with a seven-hour study in concentration that reaped 150 runs, from 340 balls and with 19 boundaries. On a slow pitch Walker played the type of dogged innings England's selectors are crying out for as they contemplate their side for the Ashes finale.

As a Kentish schoolboy Walker proved a prodigious run machine for King's Rochester, a county hockey star and the first boy to captain England Under-19s on successive overseas tours. Indeed, his first-class debut for the county came only weeks after his 19th birthday on their 1993 tour of Zimbabwe.

He went on to score almost 10,000 runs for the club at an average approaching 37 yet, seemingly without a murmur, he simply became a steady bread-and-butter pro and his call-up for the England senior side never came.

Yet there was a clear sense of pride when the short and portly Walker, known to his mates as "Pumba" after the warthog character in The Lion King, took off his helmet to celebrate a hundred at the home of cricket and his second century in three games for Essex.

In tandem with James Foster, he helped add 163 in 62 overs and though they rarely accelerated the run-rate beyond three an over, they were crucial runs in the context of avoiding defeat in this match as Essex eventually reached 345 to trail by 11 on first innings.

Foster ran himself out in the over after lunch for 72 when attempting a ridiculous single to Nick Compton at cover and Walker's vigil ended when his slog sweep against Murali Kartik flew to deep mid- wicket to be caught in front of the Mound Stand by the same fielder. Kartik duly ran through the Essex tail to finish with three for 55 but seamer Tim Murtagh fully deserved his figures of six for 84.

In the day's remaining overs Middlesex lost Sam Robson, Eoin Morgan and Compton, all to the wiles of wrist-spinner Danish Kaneria, but come stumps it was Walker who wore the broadest of smiles.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent