Martin Read – Sports Reporter
Horsham’s Tom Haines negotiated a fiery spell from Jamie Overton and a verbal spat with left-arm spinner Dan Moriarty to reach a superb 105 not out in Sussex’s first innings 239 for 3 against Surrey at the Kia Oval last Saturday
Featuring century stands with Aaron Thomason and Delray Rawlins, it was the 21-year-old left hander’s second first-class hundred and, at stumps the opener had made an unbeaten 105, facing 216 balls, with 14 fours, batting with great self-discipline throughout a shortened day.
The sluggish surface did not prevent Overton from peppering Haines in an hostile late burst, every Surrey player applauding Haines warmly on his century – especially valuable because Sussex were fielding one of the most inexperienced teams in their history, with an average age of just 24.
Overjoyed to reach 105 not out at the end of day one, 809 days since that first ton at Arundel, Haines said: “It’s been a little while coming, a couple of years – a couple of years of hard work, but to finally get there today, the feeling was unbelievable. Hopefully there will be many more.
“I keep getting starts but sometimes get out from my own mistakes, or sometimes it’s just a good ball, but today to go on and get that century was lovely.
“The wait has been frustrating but it’s also been a real learning curve, last year especially when I only played five games after doing quite well the year before. It was a bit of an eye opener and I learned a lot.”
After starting well with a 3 day win against Hampshire, Sussex have endured a disappointing Bob Willis Trophy campaign, with Haines playing very well throughout, but failing to convert good starts until today.
He said: “I haven’t felt out of nick with these five Trophy matches, even without a lot of preparation. I’ve felt good in all of them but got to the twenties and got out a lot, so to go on today was unbelievable.
“The Oval is an unbelievable ground to get a ton at. I’ve never played here before so I rocked up this morning thinking ‘wow’. It’s an amazing place to play cricket so it was even more special.
Haines continued: “It’s not easy batting up top. I keep doing the hard bit and getting through the new ball but it really isn’t easy and it’s a game which plays with your head. Luckily I’ve had very good people around me at Hove. My head was very clear today going into this game and luckily I played well.
“A few of our young batsmen also spoke to former England Captain Sir Alastair Cook after the Essex game and one thing I picked up was ‘just hit more balls than anyone else’. That’s something I’ve done over the last couple of weeks in the little break we’ve had.
“That advice is something I’m going to take into the winter with me and hopefully I can carry on this good form throughout next season as well.
“To speak to Alastair, was absolute gold dust. It was the first time I’d met him and the first time I’d played against him. Just to hear the really simple things from him really confirms it might not be as hard a game as you make out sometimes. It was so good to speak to him.”
On day 2, Haines was eventually out for 117, and will long remember his brilliant hundred at Surrey’s historic headquarters