Giles White paid tribute to young talent Benny Howell as Hampshire showed signs of emerging from their bleak recent run, despite defeat at Surrey.
The Royals went down by 36 runs in a high-scoring Clydesdale Bank40 game at Whitgift School.
But they showed some fighting spirit in their run chase after being set a mighty 312 to win by the Lions.
Howell struck 122 from 113 balls with nine fours and five sixes in a terrific effort.
And the Hampshire manager was delighted with his young opener’s performance, as he stepped up to the plate in the absence of some missing stars.
White said: ‘Benny Howell was fantastic. What a great innings from a young man coming into the side.
‘Howell played very well in the winter out in the Caribbean, where he played his part and won us games lower down the order.
‘But he’s now doing it at the top of the order in the absence of Jimmy Adams and Michael Lumb.
‘He played a very mature innings, built it up and kept things ticking over. But then he hit some lusty blows towards the end.
‘He showed what a talented cricketer he is.
‘If someone had stayed with Benny, maybe we would have got over the line.’
While it was another defeat, White spotted some welcome clues his men are improving.
He said: ‘We can take some positives but I think we can do that with a lot of the games of late, even if results haven’t gone our way.
‘I think we’re turning the corner.
‘We realised that it’s more contributions from people that we need.
‘It was probably just too many runs to chase.
‘They got a few too many and we weren’t as good in the field as we can be.
‘But I thought there were some good signs.
‘Chris Wood bowled well and Howell batted really well.
‘If someone had come up with a late cameo, it could have been different because the result looked in doubt until near the end.’
White will also get a triple boost to his ranks this week with three international cricketers returning to the fold in readiness for the t20 campaign.
He said: ‘Imran Tahir has arrived.
‘While Michael Lumb and Shahid Afridi arrive this week, so we’re getting stronger and looking forward to the t20.’