Michael Bates is ready to banish any remaining insecurities to prove that his batting can match his work with the gloves.
The talented 21-year-old is Hampshire’s number one wicket-keeper this season after Nic Pothas’ departure.
Many have been suitably impressed with Bates’ exemplary keeping but his batting has often let him down.
It has led to questions about his long-term future and potentially threatens future international recognition.
While Pothas was a batsman first and a keeper second, Bates is the opposite.
But some intensive work over the winter has given the youngster a fresh perspective on his batting.
And a career best 87 in Championship cricket in the recent clash with Gloucestershire, off the back of an impressive first-class 93 against Loughborough University, would suggest that he can make the grade.
Bates explained: ‘I know that it’s pretty much paramount that you need to be able to bat as a keeper.
‘I’ve done a lot of work on my batting – not just last winter but in previous winters as well.
‘I’ve always had insecurities about it in the past which have probably held me back.
‘But they are disappearing now.
‘The more balls I hit, the more confident I get. Something has just clicked.
‘I’ve always scrutinised myself quite a lot and often focused on little technical things that probably weren’t worth thinking about and got me down.
‘It took away from the main part of batting, which is just scoring runs.
‘It’s just about finding a way.
‘I think I have learned a lot about myself – I’ve done a lot of work with Tony Middleton and used cameras to see what I do and make myself comfortable.
‘But I would like to get my first Championship hundred under my belt this year – that would be nice.
‘It would be nice to do it for myself and for all those critics out there to shut them up.’
It’s harsh on those who have learned their craft behind the stumps that cricket’s evolution has been towards the wicket-keeper batsman, rather than towards a gifted keeper who can bat a bit.
Adam Gilchrist can probably be blamed for the trend by excelling in both departments.
And other teams have desperately tried to find their own version of the Australian.
Perhaps, though, it says even more for Bates’ ability with the gloves that the flaws and room for improvement in his batting have been accepted.
And he has not been dismissed in favour of a new wicketkeeper.
Bates said: ‘It’s brilliant to have been given the opportunity this year and to have been backed.
‘I knew there were a lot of other keepers around they might potentially bring in.
‘James Foster was mentioned and in that respect it’s almost more satisfying that those names have been thrown about and they have still decided to go with me.
‘It shows a lot of faith in me.
‘Hopefully I can just keep progressing and working as hard as I possibly can on my batting and my keeping as well.’
n Hampshire have registered Bilal Shafayat on a short-term deal, with the former Nottinghamshire batsman going straight into the squad for today’s Championship clash with Derbyshire.
Shafayat has been part of the Hampshire second team set-up for the past two seasons and will be available on a match-by-match basis for the first XI.