Bates and Balcombe bid farewell

Jackson Bird
Jackson Bird
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Hampshire have bolstered their bowling attack for next season with two new additions.

Australian fast bowler Jackson Bird has agreed a three-month stint at the start of next season as the club’s overseas player, while Sussex paceman Yasir Arafat will play in the limited-overs formats.

But the Ageas Bowl outfit have also confirmed the departures of both Michael Bates and David Balcombe as they prepare for life in division one next term.

Director of cricket, Giles White, said: ‘We’re delighted to have Jackson and Yasir on board for next season – they will both add a lot of quality to our bowling attack and, hopefully, they will help us build on a successful 2014 season.’

While Balcombe has signed a two-year deal with Surrey, Hampshire are still trying to fix up the talented wicketkeeper at a new club.

The 23-year-old made his debut in 2010 and shone with his glove work in 46 first-class matches, 36 one-day games and 37 t20 fixtures.

But despite making some significant progress with his batting, he has not been offered a new contract beyond his current one, with the club making the decision that Adam Wheater is the better all-round player.

Ruel Brathwaite – who failed to play a first-team game all season – also departs.

Balcombe made his debut back in 2005 and has played 67 first-class games in nine years, taking 196 wickets at an average of 32.83.

But it is the departure of Academy graduate Bates that will be the hardest to take for Hampshire fans.

His keeping was the key factor in their famous 40-over final success at Lord’s in 2012, with his last-ball stumping off Kabir Ali’s bowling sealing the win.

First-team coach, Dale Benkenstein, said: ‘It’s very sad to say goodbye to them.

‘The club is trying as hard as anything to make sure Bates is looked after, that’s the great thing about the club. Everyone is sad to see him go.

‘Batesy just can’t match Wheats with the bat but, looking round the country, he’s much better than some of the keepers playing.

‘I hope he goes somewhere where he plays all forms.

‘Balcs was offered one more year but wanted the option of another year. That was too much.

‘He is a talented guy but we probably haven’t seen it enough. We wish him well.’

Hampshire have also confirmed that 17-year-old off-spinner Brad Taylor and promising young fast-bowler Basil Akram have signed development contracts.