Duo face a nervous wait over Bowl future

Michael Bates

Michael Bates

First published in Sport Basingstoke Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Sports Reporter

HAMPSHIRE are still in contract negotiations with Michael Bates and David Balcombe.

“There are a few players we haven’t made decisions on just yet,” said Hampshire director of cricket Giles White, when asked about the futures of the out-of-contract pair. “It’s that period of the season where we’re making decisions and we’re in negotiations with those guys.”

Bates, a key player in Hampshire’s T20 triumphs of 2010 and 2012 and one of the country's most talented wicketkeepers, has been restricted to eight T20 and 12 LV County Championship appearances since the controversial signing of Adam Wheater 18 months ago. With Wheater under contract till 2017, and the likes of Lewis McManus and Tom Alsop providing more competition, 23 year-old Bates has been linked with a move to several counties.

Ironically, they include Essex following the departure of Ben Foakes. Like Wheater, Foakes grew frustrated at being James Foster’s understudy and signed for Surrey last month.

Meanwhile, Balcombe, pictured left, has struggled with a knee injury for most of this season and has not bowled a ball for Hampshire for two months.

He has taken 128 Championship wickets at 34.4 since making his debut in 2007 and is only 29.

But Hampshire’s signing of Andre Adams will not make it any easier for him to regain a regular place next season.

Adams has only signed a three-month deal but White is keen to strengthen Hampshire’s bowling squad further.

“It’s something you reassess the whole time and bowling is the area we need to recruit,” he said.

“We’ll look to see who’s available. We’re always exploring options and seeing what will fit the group.

“We’ve got a few ideas, but nothing we can talk about just yet.”

Meanwhile, White reckons Andre Adams can have a positive impact on young seamers like Tom Barber.

“Obviously you sign a senior player to get results on the pitch but they tend to offer a lot more than that – Dominic Cork had a good impact for us over a short period of time – and I imagine the younger players will feed off him,” he said.

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