By Neil Goulding

CHESHIRE skipper Andy Hall believes all-rounder Jason Whittaker has come of age in the Cheshire side. Whittaker has played for Cheshire for just over three years.

Despite having shown his ability to play at the top level, he has never really made use of some good starts and has therefore failed to put some big scores on the board.

But the Bolton schoolteacher, who plays for Oulton Park in the Murray Smith Accountants Cheshire County League ECB Premier Division, was Cheshire's hero in their last match against Wiltshire at Alderley Edge.

Whittaker scored an impressive unbeaten 70 and also shone with the ball in both innings as Cheshire got the better of the draw on one of their home grounds.

And captain Hall is adamant Whittaker will now go on to progress in their Minor Counties Championship format.

"I am amazed that was Jason's first 50 for Cheshire," said Hall. "Jason's a quality player and he's had plenty of runs in the League, so it was really nice to see him get a big score at this level.

"His batting has improved and he is a key asset to our team."

Hall is convinced Whittaker's resurgence in form has come from a winter spent playing cricket in Australia.

Whittaker went Down Under with fellow clubmate Danny Leech, Cheshire's left-handed opener.

And the pair both shone against Australia's best Grade cricketers. "I think having played in Australia Jason has really developed as a player," added Hall.

"The standard is a lot better than League cricket over here and you have to adopt a much more stronger mental approach.

"I am absolutely delighted for him as a player and as a team-mate because Cheshire really need him.

"It's important to have a really good all-rounder in your team."