NEIL Wagner says he is itching to get underway for Essex...just three days after meeting his new team-mates for the first time.

The New Zealand fast bowler only landed at Heathrow on Tuesday, but could now be called upon to lead the Essex line against big-hitting Lancashire in Essex’s County Championship Division One opener tomorrow.

Wagner, 30, would be playing against the side he took 32 wickets for last summer and is hoping for a similar impact after taking 6-66 on his debut against Nottinghamshire.

But he says he is looking to ‘control the controllables’ before he is replaced by Mohammad Amir for the second half of the season.

“My first impressions are that it is very nice,” he said. “I only got here on Wednesday and I am a bit jet-lagged.

“Even though I have only been here for a short amount of time, I have heard a lot of good stuff from people I know and everyone is very welcoming and friendly.

“Although I am feeling the jetlag at the moment, it shouldn’t influence my involvement tomorrow. It is part and parcel of being an international cricketer in this day and age.

“I feel nervous and excited,” he added. “You need to control your emotions and use them in a positive way when you are in the middle. This is when you are itching to go and controlling the controllables is important.”

The 30-year-old joins a talented array of bowlers at the club, with Jamie Porter, Matt Dixon, Matt Quinn, Ravi Bopara, Ryan ten Doeschate, Simon Harmer, Callum Taylor and Paul Walter all looking to make their mark on the team.

Although he hasn’t bowled on the Essex County Ground wicket yet, he is prepared and says he has spoken to the club’s groundsman Stuart Kerrison.

“I have heard a lot about the slope but I haven’t bowled out there yet so I can’t really comment too much,” he said. “But it doesn’t look as bad as I expected and I have seen worse at other grounds.

“The wicket looks good and the groundsman is passionate about the wicket and that is always good to see. It looks hard and there is a good cover of grass so I am looking forward to it.”

“For me, it is about finding a way to contribute and about giving my all on and off the field.

“I try and bring a lot of energy to the game and that is the way I play. I take a lot of pride in that and I want to wake up knowing I have given everything to this team.”