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Wanstead old boy James Foster is looking forward to his ‘Big Bash’ for charity

PUBLISHED: 13:00 12 May 2011

Essex's James Foster

Essex's James Foster

EMPICS Sport

Longest-serving player raising money for charity in benefit year.

Former Wanstead cricketer James Foster has been rewarded for his loyalty to Essex CCC by being awarded a benefit year.

The counties longest-serving player, has enjoyed over a decade representing his home county and is a fine example of a one-club sportsman – a rarity in today’s day and age.

“I’m honoured that Essex have chosen me,” said Foster.

“I have five charity events set for this year to raise money for two causes that are close to my heart.

“The first is the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s (PCA) Benevolent Fund, which helps former and current players when they need major operations, or readjusting to life outside the game.

“The other charity I have chosen is Haven House Children’s Hospice which cares for terminally ill children in north-east London and Essex. They are based in Woodford Green, where I grew up, so they seemed a natural choice.”

Foster, affectionately known as ‘Fozzy’ by Essex fans, says he has tried to keep the fundraising events as simple as possible and is keen for people to get involved.

“The pinnacle of my benefit year is the Fozzy’s Big Bash, a Twenty20 game at the Ford County Ground, Chelmsford that sees Essex’s first XI take on an all-star side featuring the likes of Murali Muralitharan, Darren Gough and Monty Panesar,” said Foster.

“It will be a great atmosphere under the lights on June 18 and all the players are giving their time for free and we

On top of the Twenty20 game, Foster has also organised a golf day at Chelmsford Golf Club in July, a Twenty20 game at Wanstead Cricket Club, an Essex Legends Dinner in September featuring the likes of Nasser Hussain, Ronnie Irani and Graham Gooch as well as a festive dinner and dance in November.

“It is going to be a busy year,” said Foster. “But I have a great committee helping me and people seem really happy to do what they can which is great. I just want to raise as much money as I can.”

Although June’s all-star Twenty20 game may be the highlight of the fundraising events, a poignant date for Foster, a former Forest School pupil, will be the game at Wanstead Cricket Club.

“Wanstead was where it all began for me,” said Foster.

“My Dad was keen on cricket and he took me along to Wanstead and I fell in love with the game.

“Then at school I was given the opportunity to play and then I was spotted and signed by Essex.”

At the age of 19, Foster signed his first professional contract with the county and soon made his debut, establishing himself as a top wicketkeeper, thanks in part to his ability to stand up to medium-pace bowlers.

This was something of a rarity with most choosing to stand back from the stumps with balls facing them at speeds of up to 80mph.

“It’s just something I like to do,” said Foster.

Foster was made vice-captain in 2007 and his proudest moment as an Essex player came a year later at the home of English cricket – Lord’s.

“My stand-out memory in an Essex shirt has to be the final of the Friends Provident Trophy in 2008,” he said.

“Winning a top-level competition at the best ground in the world was a great personal achievement. And beating Kent, our local rivals, made it even better.”

The following year Foster was chosen to represent England at the Twenty20 World Cup, where he was praised for his sharp keeping.

“Playing for England is something I have dreamt about since I was a boy. I would love to play for my country again and I still have ambitions of doing so.”

Last year, Foster was appointed captain of his county – something the 31-year-old definitely doesn’t take for granted.

“It is a huge honour to be chosen to captain your county and it I don’t take it lightly,” he said.

As well as looking to play for England again in the future, Foster says he also has other ambitions.

“I love to play cricket and I want to carry on for as long as I can,” he said.

“I want to continue to perform solidly, and I would love to win more silverware with Essex.


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