Rob Yates admits it was a "very proud moment" this summer when he took the last step on the pathway from Warwickshire Under 10s player to member of the Bears first-team.
Solihull-born Yates entered the 2019 season hoping to make a good impression for the 2nds and perhaps get a first-team game or two along the way.
He ended it with a maiden championship century under his belt and as a regular in the red-ball team, having played 12 championship games and scored 570 runs, plenty of them important runs for the team, scored under pressure.
I didn’t expect to play a huge amount of first-team cricket this year so have been really pleased with the way it went. It is a step up but I just tried to tell myself is that it is the same game as I have always played.cite=”Rob Yates
The 20-year-old, a product of Moseley from the age of eight and the Warwickshire age-groups from under 10s, impressed a lot of good judges with batting of composure, technique and application.
Yates made the step up earlier than expected, but handled the elevation adroitly, culminating in that maiden century, a superb 141 in over six hours at home to title-chasing Somerset, for his beloved Bears.
“That was a very proud moment,” he said. “Growing up, it was always my dream to play for Warwickshire so it was very special to get the century.
“In the Hampshire game before that I got so close, so I just wanted to make sure I got over the line and then I added a few extra runs which was nice. It was a brilliant day.
“I didn’t expect to play a huge amount of first-team cricket this year so have been really pleased with the way it went. It is a step up but I just tried to tell myself is that it is the same game as I have always played, just a bit quicker and I need to be as consistent as possible.
“I try not to over-complicate things and that seems to make me relax a bit when I am out there. Facing world-class bowlers like Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott it would be quite easy to look at them and just panic, so you try and watch the ball and play it as it comes.”
Yates’ clear-headed strategy paid off with a number of important innings, not least a crucial 49 in the three-wicket win over Yorkshire at York. He has made an excellent start to his senior career – but is well aware that it is only a start.
“I just want to keep working hard and improving,” he said. “At the end of the season I felt pretty tired, physically and mentally, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll get a bit of a rest now and then get back to the hard work come November.
“Then next season I’ll just take it as it comes. I’ll work hard and do what I am told to the best of my ability. I try not to overthink. It is quite a high-pressure environment so the more pressure you take off yourself then, theoretically, the easier it becomes.”