Lord’s heroes go their separate ways

Kabir Ali and Michael Bates celebrate at Lord's. Picture: Neil Marshall
Kabir Ali and Michael Bates celebrate at Lord's. Picture: Neil Marshall
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The two Lord’s heroes who led Hampshire to Clydesdale Bank 40 glory last season have played their final game together.

Fast bowler Kabir Ali has opted to move to Lancashire after a three-year spell at the Ageas Bowl.

But promising young wicketkeeper Michael Bates has signed a new two-year contract to stay at the club.

The duo combined in a pulsating finish to the Lord’s final against Warwickshire back in September, as the Royals completed a famous domestic double in limited overs competitions.

Bates has excelled behind the stumps since replacing Nic Pothas.

And if the standard of his batting can get anywhere near his exemplary work with the gloves, he looks to have a bright international future.

His maiden first class century at Yorkshire last season signalled improvements.

Ali’s Hampshire career, despite finishing in glorious fashion, never quite fired on all cylinders.

He suffered a career-threatening knee injury soon afer his arrival from Worcestershire in the 2010 campaign.

The 31-year-old bowler, who has played one Test match for England, was in discussions with Hampshire over a new deal but no agreement was reached and he has now penned a two-year deal at Old Trafford.

And just 17 Championship games and eight limited overs matches in three seasons underlines the battle he faced to get himself back to fitness after the knee ligament injury.

In a brief club statement, Ali said: ‘I would like to thank everybody at the club including the players, coaches, supporters and staff.

‘I’ve really enjoyed my three years at The Ageas Bowl.

‘I wish everyone all the best for the coming season and beyond.’

While Ali will be looking to recapture his best at Lancashire, 22-year-old Bates is determined to put in the hours on his weaknesses to come back even stronger next year.

He said: ‘I’m very pleased. Signing a new deal here was an exciting prospect.

‘We had an exceptional year last year so it was an easy decision.

‘I had a few ups and downs and trying to juggle it with my batting, it was difficult at times last season.

‘I had a breakthrough year with my batting.

‘Up until then, I had never really had any outstanding performances to prove to people that I could do it – and to myself.

‘To get that 100 under my belt was nice.

‘I’m always striving to improve and hopefully I can churn out a few more in the future.

‘I’ll be working with Tony Middleton on a few technical issues over the winter to hopefully improve again.’