County news September 29, 2014

Surrey bring in Balcombe

ESPNcricinfo staff

Surrey have signed fast bowler David Balcombe from Hampshire on a two-year deal. Balcombe, 29, came through Surrey's Academy before joining Hampshire, where he struggled to hold down a regular place despite taking 141 first-class wickets over seven years.

Balcombe discovered a rich vein of form while on loan at Kent in 2011, taking 33 wickets at 17.81, and he was Hampshire's leading wicket-taker the following season. His returns dipped in 2012, however, and he only played in four Championship matches this year, as Hampshire won promotion back to Division One.

"It was a tough decision to make, but I think it's in the best interests of my career to start a fresh chapter elsewhere," Balcombe said. "I will always hold fond memories of the club who gave me my first chance in the professional game and I'll always be proud to have played for Hampshire."

Balcombe is one of three players to be leaving Hampshire, with the news that Michael Bates, the highly rated wicketkeeper, and Ruel Brathwaite have also been released. Bates was usurped as Hampshire's first-choice keeper in all formats by the arrival of Adam Wheater in 2013 from Essex; Brathwaite, who signed from Durham last year, only played once this season.

Surrey's director of cricket, Alec Stewart, said: "We are pleased to announce the signing of David Balcombe. He is a bowler who came through the Surrey system and he will add depth and experience to our squad and we welcome him back to The Oval."

Surrey have also extended the contracts of sevens players. Zafar Ansari, Rory Burns, Tom Curran and Dominic Sibley have signed three-year deals, while Gary Wilson, captain in 2014, Stuart Meaker and Gareth Batty have agreed two-year extensions.

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  • Android on September 29, 2014, 21:01 GMT

    Wouldn't be surprised to see Bates move to Essex...we value a keeper who is actually good behind the stumps and after grooming Foakes for a couple of years he has just decided to move to surrey (disappointing) we will need someone else to come in. If Bates is as good as his stats suggest then who better to learn from than possibly the best gloves man in the world... at 34 he has already given up the limited overs captaincy, a couple of years of patience and Bates could further improve and be our number 1...and maybe England's.

  • Paulo on September 29, 2014, 17:46 GMT

    Does anybody think any of the following? If so please say:

    1. Balcombe going from Hants to Surrey is the biggest issue in this article? (my stance may be biased as a Hants fan, but surely the biggest issue is Bates)

    2.Bates should have been released? (he didn't even ask to leave to my knowledge)

    3.Wheater is a better player to have in the team than Bates or Rouse?

  • Paulo on September 29, 2014, 16:54 GMT

    Surely the biggest news is that Michael Bates has been realised??!!? Absolutely horrified to hear this. Bates is arguably the best gloveman in the country. His batting may have struggled a bit in the first team, but apparently he's scored bucket loads in the 2s. Surely he deserved an extended run in the first team to develop his batting and be given a chance. Wheater isn't a bad keeper, but is a different class to Bates, and Wheater's batting has been disappointing for me.

    Same with Rouse being released. An awesome gloveman like Bates. One of the best. Rouse could bat too. Good to see him getting opportunities with Gloucestershire.

    Not sure how much Balcombe will be missed. Seam-bowler depth will be important next year, but I suppose we do have Adams coming in, as well as Tomlinson, Wood and Coles. We do need a seam-bowler to come in though, and hopefully Abbott can be signed again.

    Don't know much abour Brathwaite.

  • David on September 29, 2014, 16:47 GMT

    Losing Michael Bates is very sad - but with Alsop and McManus coming through, I suppose something had to give. Just have to continue watching the present incumbent fluffing things behind the stumps!

  • Dummy4 on September 29, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    Braithwaite has never really impressed in his two seasons at Hampshire, even last season when he featured more he never stood out. Balcombe wasn't consistent enough, a fine bowler on his day, but when it wasn't his day he was distinctly average. However, releasing Bates is bonkers! The argument is Wheater is the better batsman, yet in 12 first-class matches this season averaged only 32! Bates is a fine gloveman, particularly in limited-overs cricket, and his batting has come on leaps and bounds. It's rather short-sighted to release him now.

  • Andy on September 29, 2014, 16:29 GMT

    Strange headline for a story that is mostly about Hampshire. Sad to see Michael Bates on his way, I hope he gets a first-team place at another county. Jackson Bird could be a useful acquisition for Hampshire,

  • Ben on September 29, 2014, 16:01 GMT

    Bates will get a contract somewhere. His batting has improved massively, and his keeping is obviously top drawer. Between his release and that of Adam Rouse, Hampshire have got rid of two cracking young glovemen, with massive futures in the game. Might be looking somewhere with an older keeper - Glamorgan and Notts are just two that spring to mind...

  • Matthew on September 29, 2014, 15:12 GMT

    A real shame for Michael Bates as he is an outstanding wicket keeper, I hope that he gets another county as he is far to good a wicket keeper not to be playing county cricket. It is sadly as sign of the times that a wicket keeper of his talent does not get picked as he lacks runs with the bat, give a wicket keeper of his ability any day over people like Bairstow and Buttler who are good batsmen but can cost many runs through dropped catches.

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