Michael Bates is ready to step up to become Hampshire’s wicketkeeper batsman, according to Giles White.
The talented 21-year-old glovesman effectively ousted Nic Pothas from the team last season and has been given his chance to stake a claim this term.
While Bates has excelled behind the stumps since making his debut in 2010, there were fears over his batting.
But a career-best first-class score of 93 against Loughborough last week was followed by his highest total in the Championship when he hit 87 against Gloucestershire at the weekend.
And the Hampshire manager believes Bates’ intensive work on a weakness in his game has given him an early-season platform ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Glamorgan.
White said: ‘Michael Bates was certainly one of the positives from the first game and his batting is an area where he will continue to develop.
‘He is one of the finest keepers in the country and that is recognised by lots of people. His keeping skills are fantastic and his batting is developing.
‘To have got 90 against Loughborough will have done him the world of good confidence-wise and I’m confident that he will keep progressing and become a very good wicket-keeper batsman.’
Bates also made a fine start with the gloves, with eight dismissals.
But with just one half-century in the Championship before the Gloucestershire clash and a batting average of 18.54 from eight matches last season, the spotlight was on how many runs he could score this term, with a keeper expected to perform the dual role.
White said: ‘As a keeper, you are an all-rounder in many ways and that comes with the territory now.
‘He is following in the footsteps of Nic Pothas who was a very fine batsman as well.
‘It’s about him doing things his own way. His keeping has been outstanding and you can see the improvement in his batting over the winter.
‘I’ve been impressed with the way he’s gone about it.
‘He worked very hard over the winter with Tony Middleton at the indoor school and then he went off to Adelaide and played matches.
‘He worked on a couple of technical things and that is bearing fruit now.
‘It’s a start for him but now it’s about doing it consistently. He played very well against Gloucestershire and needs to do the same against Glamorgan.
‘He got 90-odd last week against Loughborough so he’s going well and it’s important that he tries to continue that good form.
‘It’s vital that when you’ve got some form, you want to hang on to it for as long as possible.’
Hampshire will go into the trip to Cardiff with the same 12-man squad but needing contributions from more players if they are to bounce back from the disappointment of defeat to Gloucestershire in their opener.
White said: ‘There were a lot of good performances and it’s now about contributing all the way through the order.
‘We go to Glamorgan and they have had a tough start. We will go there and will be confident because we can take a lot of positives from the last game.’