Michael Bates believes he is in the form of his life after his latest wicketkeeping masterclass.
The talented 23-year-old once again showed he is head and shoulders above the other keepers at the Ageas Bowl with four catches that were crucial in helping to dismiss Glamorgan for just 224 on day one of their County Championship division two encounter.
Hampshire then hammered home their advantage to reach 119 for one in reply.
At least two of Bates’ catches simply would not have been taken by many other glovesmen in the country, especially a sublime low catch to remove South African batsman Jacques Rudolph.
And it wasn’t just the wickets he helped collect as he showed with his athletic ability to stem the flow of runs.
Indeed, one incredible leap to gather a short-pitched delivery suggested he had taken off on a hidden trampoline.
But the keeper knows all too well he lost his place in the side because of his batting, rather than his keeping, last year and has spent the winter in Australia bringing his game up to a new level.
Bates said: ‘I would say I’m in the best place I have been with my game at the moment.
‘Mentally, I am in a brilliant place and it all stems from that.
‘It’s going very nicely. I’m feeling in a brilliant place at the moment both with the gloves and the bat.
‘I’m very confident and when I walk out to the middle, I feel I can contribute with both.
‘I think I have taken my batting to another level.
‘I worked very hard with (Neil) Noddy Holder out in Perth, played some club cricket and it has worked well.
‘It’s somewhere I knew I could get to and something has just clicked.
‘Since I’ve come back it’s been working nicely for me and I’ve just got to keep doing those same things.’
After working with world-renowned batting coach Neil ‘Noddy’ Holder in Perth, Bates has addressed the weakness in his game that was threatening his chances of nailing down the Hampshire wicketkeeper’s position.
Adam Wheater was drafted in from Essex last year in a move that was not popular among the majority of the club’s supporters.
While Wheater is certainly no mug with the gloves, his batting was regarded as a bigger asset to the team.
But a fractured finger has given Bates a new opportunity that he is determined to take.
He said: ‘At times, it was not easy last year – I will not make any bones about that.
‘But I think it’s then important to concentrate on your own game and not get too caught up with it all.
‘When you do that, things happen for you most of the time.
‘When you do the right things consistently, you get results and that’s what happening for me at the moment.’
Assessing his work behind the stumps, Bates added: ‘There were a couple of good ones in there so I was happy with that.
‘It’s a good wicket to get Rudolph early and it was a very nice moment.
‘Because it was so low I had to adjust at the last minute but it was nice to see it go into the middle of the mitt.
‘It was a brilliant day – we are in a very strong position.’