Pothas pledges to build-up Bates with the bat

Michael Bates
Michael Bates
James Vince. Picture: Sarah Standing (170455-8793)

Vince relishing ‘second chance’

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Nic Pothas insists he will take it upon himself to get his protégé Michael Bates’ batting up to standard to ensure Hampshire will have a ready-made replacement when the time comes to step down.

The long-serving wicketkeeper is gearing up for his benefit year, with the new county season less than three weeks away as Hampshire host Durham on Thursday, April 8.

Bates excelled behind the stumps with some superb work when Pothas was ruled out with a knee problem for the latter part of last season.

But the Rose Bowl Academy graduate struggled with the bat, amassing just 77 runs from nine innings in Championship cricket last term.

Bates’ top score was 31 in the defeat at Lancashire and he made it into double figures on just one other occasion.

He fared little better in limited overs cricket, managing a top score of 10 in t20 cricket as he batted way down the order.

But while Pothas has no plans to step down just yet, he is determined the talented 20-year-old will be ready to take on his mantle as a genuine all-rounder when the time is right with some help from himself and wicketkeeping coach Bobby Parks.

Pothas explained: ‘Batesy did fantastically well when he came in last season.

‘But now it’s Bobby Parks and my job to make sure that Batesy’s batting comes up to speed so that when I hang up my boots, I’ve got a ready-made replacement.

‘Unfortunately in this era, keepers have to be able to bat and they have to be able to contribute massively with the bat.

‘They need to be able to do both jobs these days.

‘Don’t ask me why bowlers don’t have to do it. That would open up a whole can of worms!

‘Batesy as a glovesman is just fantastic. But in this day and age, keepers have to be, at worst, a number-seven batsman.

‘But we will get him up to speed, don’t worry about that. By the time I’m done, I’m hoping he will go on to have better results than me.

‘When you finish, you hope that the next bloke is better than you.’

It’s probably wishful thinking to suggest that Bates will be able to emulate Pothas’ batting statistics just yet.

The 37-year-old has more than 11,000 first-class runs to his name, with 24 centuries and an average of more than 40.

Pothas insists he takes pride in his role as an all-rounder and considers himself as a batsman in his own right.

He said: ‘My main competition is to be better than all the batsmen when I’m batting and when I’m keeping, my competition is to be better than all the other keepers.

‘As an all-rounder, you need to be able to be selected as keeper and a batsman.

‘That’s the way I’ve always played my cricket.

‘If I was a bits and pieces cricketer, I think I would be letting myself down.’