Keeper’s on front foot to improve batting

Michael Bates appeals for a wicket. Picture: Neil Marshall
Michael Bates appeals for a wicket. Picture: Neil Marshall
James Vince. Picture: Sarah Standing (170455-8793)

Vince relishing ‘second chance’

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Michael Bates believes he has taken giant strides with his batting in recent weeks.

The 20-year-old wicketkeeper has excelled with the gloves for Hampshire, since replacing the injured Nic Pothas, who has been ruled out for several weeks after an appendix operation.

But while question marks remain over Bates’ ability to score runs consistently, he went some way to answering the doubters with the first Championship half-century of his career in the recent win over Durham.

With an app-roach made for Essex wicketkeeper James Foster recently, it’s clear Hampshire are yet to be convinced the youngster is quite ready to replace Pothas when the time comes.

But after scoring a disciplined 58 not out, Bates is hopeful it is the first important contribution of many as he bids to nail down his place in the side for years to come.

The wicketkeeper said: ‘It was nice to get a half-century and get off the mark.

‘I feel like my batting has improved a lot and I’m steadily getting there.

‘I feel like I have turned a corner with my batting in the past few weeks.

‘Time at the crease always helps – just getting more and more experience at this level.

‘It was important for me to get that first half-century in the Championship and now I have to build on that in the future.’

Bates revealed some intensive work on his batting with Michael Carberry and Neil McKenzie had paid dividends, although he continues to work on all of his duties.

He said: ‘I’ve been working quite closely with a couple of senior players.

‘Carbs and Macca have helped me a lot and I think we’re getting there.

‘I’m happy with my keeping – that has taken a back seat and batting has been at the forefront of my importance.

‘But I think the massive improvement is in my batting, as my keeping has always been fairly steady.

‘I will just keep working on both skills.’

Hampshire’s hopes of maintaining their climb away from relegation were hit after the first day of their clash against Worcestershire was abandoned without a ball bowled yesterday.

But the Rose Bowl outfit have boosted their chances of survival with consecutive wins over Durham and Warwickshire.

And Bates believes they have now given themselves a chance of avoiding the drop to division two.

He said: We know that every game is very important but to have got the ball rolling is ideal.

‘When you are in the habit of losing, it’s very hard to get out of it.

‘But at the same time, winning can become a habit.

‘It’s been a massive boost to morale. The changing room is a brilliant place to be anyway.

‘There’s obviously a massive amount still to do but you can only take one game as it comes.’