RICHARD Pretty scored an explosive 79-ball century to set Himbleton on the way to an unexpected victory against a strong and young Barnt Green 2nds in Saturday’s Worcestershire League Regional Championship Trophy Group B opener.
Joined at the wicket by Jamie Alford (43no) when his side were reeling at 55-5 with the top order having mostly self-destructed, Pretty (103) and Alford put on 150 for the sixth wicket in a display of beautiful, controlled aggression.
Pretty began slowly and scratchily but was aided by the mature Alford who helped him through these early troubles and they both soon blossomed and accelerated, hitting nine sixes and ten boundaries.
The visitors’ attack was shell-shocked as the ball kept disappearing out of the ground and they found little to control it – in stark contrast to the first half of the innings when the bowlers dominated and found the hosts’ experienced top order wanting.
Himbleton reached 207-6 off their 40 overs which was just above par for the wicket.
Barnt Green came out all guns blazing but lost both big-hitting openers early courtesy of some disciplined bowling and stunning overhead catches by Jon Critchlow and Sean Jenkins.
Greg Dale (1-31) and Alford (2-23) ensured the visitors did not get off to a flyer and were helped by a youthful and energetic fielding display.
Wickets fell steadily with Sam Jenkins (4-32) picking up some vital scalps and only Cameron Jones (52) showed any adhesive qualities, batting superbly for his half-century.
As the run rate climbed, Himbleton continued to exert pressure and were rewarded ultimately with a 41-run win as the visitors were dismissed for 166 off 38 overs.
New Himbleton captain Sean Jenkins was delighted with his team’s performance and said: “That was a great fightback, as that was a strong opposition.
“When we were five down for 50-odd I thought we’d be home for tea, but Rich (Pretty) and Jamie (Alford) were outstanding.
“It’s always great to see them both get runs as it’ll do wonders for their confidence. The two new boys (Dan Whadcock and Will Colson) added some much-needed youth and energy to the fielding and slotted straight in which bodes well for the rest of the season.”