MICHAEL Bates believes he has taken his batting to another level.

Wicketkeeper Bates impressed in the absence of the injured Adam Wheater against Surrey, making an unbeaten 28 from only 24 balls as Hampshire secured maximum batting points in the play that was possible.

Bates also hit 31 against Derbyshire, having started the season with a run-a-ball 121 for the Second XI.

He said: "I really feel I have taken my batting to another level – I’m hitting the ball as well as I ever have done.

“I’ve had a productive winter and I feel great.”

Bates is in a 12-man Hampshire squad for the three-day friendly against Cardiff UCCE, which starts on Bank Holiday Monday.

Danny Briggs, David Balcombe, Joe Gatting and Ruel Brathwaite provide the experience, while several players are set for their first-class debut.

Wicketkeeper-batsmen Lewis McManus and Tom Alsop are joined by seam bowlers Tom Barber and Matt King, Isle of Wight batsman Adam Hose and trialist Aaron West.

There is also a place for Brad Taylor, the off-spinner who became Hampshire’s youngest first-class debutant since 1867 last year, aged 16.