FORMER Hampshire wicketkeeper Michael Bates will be launching his first book, Keeping Up, before the county’s Vitality Blast match against Kent tomorrow afternoon.

He and co-author Tom Huelin will be at The Ageas Bowl from 1.30pm to sign copies of the book in which he discusses his career with Hampshire.

Bates was just 21 when he became Hampshire’s first-team wicketkeeper, his immaculate glove work quickly earning him a reputation for being one of the best keepers in the country.

He helped Hampshire win three limited-overs trophies in as many years.

But despite his clear ability with the gloves, his batting was considered a concern by his club.

And, following his success in 2012, when he helped the county he’d represented since childhood win the Friends Life t20 and Clydesdale Bank 40 double, Bates was replaced by Adam Wheater - a man considered more of a multi-dimensional ‘keeper-batter’ - who joined from Essex.

Bates was tipped off about Wheater’s imminent arrival by an anonymous letter received at his home address.

With contributions from World Cup stars Jos Buttler and Joe Root as well as Adam Gilchrist, Sam Billings, Dimi Mascarenhas, Jimmy Adams, Nic Pothas, Liam Dawson, Chris Wood and many other cricketers who knew Bates best, Keeping Up gives a real insight into the art of wicketkeeping, seen through the eyes of one of the finest purveyors of the art in the country.

Bates said: “Writing Keeping Up was an emotional journey. Speaking to players I’d grown up with, the majority of whom still totally supporting me, telling me I should still be playing, was bitter-sweet.

“Joe Root telling me he’s frustrated I’m not still playing first-class cricket, for example, was a moment that will stick with me forever.

“That said, I’m massively proud of the career I had, and feel like I played the game my way, always pushing myself to be the best I could be - particularly with the gloves.

“I still believe there’s a place for specialist keepers in the game - my view is your best gloveman - or woman - should be behind the stumps, no matter what. As long as I’m involved in the game, I’ll keep banging the wicketkeeper’s drum. I hope you enjoy the book.”

Huelin, who will be in the Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie stand's Shaun Udal Suite throughout tomorrow afternoon, said: “When I was reporting on Hampshire back in 2012, I couldn’t help but notice the elite performances of their young keeper, Michael Bates.

“Following Hampshire that season was a joy. Their style of play - taking pace off the ball in white ball cricket, with Batesy keeping up to the stumps - was so effective, and led to two limited overs trophies that season.

"I couldn’t believe it when Hampshire replaced, then released, Michael Bates. He’s a match-winner, and would be an asset to any side, still today. This book tells his story, but also within the wider context of how the wicketkeeper role has changed over the years, with runs now a pre-requisite; the Adam Gilchrist effect, we can call it.

“The fact Gilchrist himself gave up his time to speak to us gives an indication of the regard with which he and everyone within the game still holds Michael Bates.”