From there it was a short step to Hampshire CCC – and to one of the defining moments of cricket’s last decade.
Michael Bates captained all the major sports teams during his time at Lord Wandsworth College, but his passion lay on the cricket field – so a move, after school, to Hampshire County Cricket Club was a dream come true.
Michael spent five happy seasons at Hampshire, acquiring a reputation as a decent batsman and – in particular – one of the country’s very best (perhaps the best) wicket-keepers. A career highlight was the thrilling 2012 CB40 Final, where Michael’s last-ball stop gave Hampshire victory over Warwickshire by virtue of losing fewer wickets, both teams
Now released by Hampshire, Michael is looking to the next chapter of his cricketing career.
âž¡ What are your memories of the sports coaching at Lord Wandsworth College?
LWC supported my cricket development superbly. The sporting facilities at the school were excellent and always available, allowing me to fit in my training around my school work and other commitments.
âž¡ What did the school give you, in terms of your development as an athlete?
It was important for me at that stage to stay involved in as many sports as possible. So, during my time at LWC I played the three main seasonal sports, rugby, hockey and (obviously) cricket. I was lucky enough to captain teams in each sport at some point throughout my schooling career, which was a huge help in developing various skills – leadership, team work and more. The coaches were always very knowledgeable and carried with them a vast amount of personal experience, and were always very accommodating in sharing their expertise with us.
âž¡ What are your memories of school life beyond the sports field?
I always found LWC a very warm and welcoming environment. The gorgeous grounds and friendly staff and pupils created a fantastic community in which to learn and grow up. I got on very well with both students and teachers, and ultimately made friends for life there.
âž¡ What has been your own sporting highlight thus far, and why?
I was lucky enough to enjoy some success during my time at Hampshire. Celebrating my maiden first-class century against Yorkshire at Headingley, winning the domestic T20 competition twice in 2010 and 2012 – those all stand out as significant career highlights for me. However, the pinnacle of my career thus far would have to be our victory over Warwickshire in the 2012 CB40 Final at Lord’s. For a game of that magnitude to go down to the very last ball, at the home of cricket, and for me to have the final touch leading us to victory was simply unforgettable.
âž¡ What would you say has been your greatest challenge or lowest point so far?
Being released from Hampshire was very tough. I’d grown up in the county, and grown up playing with a lot of the lads in that team. I felt like my time there was prematurely cut short and I never got a chance to flourish and properly prove what I can do. But these decisions are out of your hands. So it was a case of having to move on and embrace the next stage in my career. That said, I’ll always be a Hampshire boy, and maybe one day I’ll even find my way back there.
âž¡ What are your plans for the future?
Right now I’m continuing to pursue my cricket career, trialling with a few other counties and very much staying in the game. I feel I’ve still got a great deal to offer any team that will take me on – I’m just waiting for that opportunity to come along.