Jack Haynes made an impressive Vitality Blast debut for Worcestershire Rapids in their opening home match in the 2020 competition against Northamptonshire Steelbacks.
The England Under-19 played with great fluency in making 41 from just 27 balls with five fours and a six.
It confirmed the promise that Haynes has already shown this summer with 251 runs in four matches in the Bob Willis Trophy.
The England Under-19 player has not looked out of place alongside more experienced players and top-scored against the Steelbacks.
The Rapids, so successful in the Blast in 2018 and 2019, suffered a rare setback in that format of the game as Northamptonshire experienced the best of the batting conditions in gaining a nine wicket win after winning the toss.
The Rapids totalled 124-7 after being put into bat on a slowish pitch which the four Steelbacks spinners exploited to good effect before an unbeaten 80 from Paul Stirling saw them to victory.
Head Coach Alex Gidman praised the performances of Haynes, the Rapids and paceman Dillon Pennington, who bowled well without luck in the powerplay.
It was Worcestershire’s first defeat in any form of cricket in what has been a highly successful start to the campaign.
Conditions had eased after the sun had been on the wicket by the time Northamptonshire launched their reply and Stirling demonstrated the form which had seen him score 142 for Ireland against England in an ODI earlier this month at the Ageas Bowl.
Gidman said: “I’m really pleased for Jack Haynes. He just went out and played his natural game which is what I’ve asked him to do. I want him to go and enjoy this T20 experience.
“There is no expectation, no pressure on his shoulders, he looked the part and he played really well.
“I also thought Dillon bowled very nicely in some tough times. I think three overs in the powerplay, regardless of how many runs he went for, he bowled with good pace and a good length. Two younger guys who really stood out today I thought.
“Credit to Northants, I thought they played very well, adapted to the conditions very quickly and executed their plans very well and we were half a yard off the pace in all facets to be totally honest.
“We haven’t played a game, Thursday was a wash-out, the weather has meant we haven’t had great preparation but no excuses. I thought Northants were brilliant and we were just a little bit off the pace.
“I think it was quite a good toss to win. In T20 generally it shouldn’t make too much difference but sometimes it does and it was a bit tacky, understandably so, it’s been under the covers a lot so we thought it might be harder to score on early on.
“Our guys were coming off saying it was just sticking in the wicket a little bit and it did improve with pace on the ball and they found it easier to start with than we did. But once again they were the better team today and deserved to win.”
Ed Barnard captained Worcestershire for the first time and will lead the Rapids in all their Blast games where England all-rounder Moeen Ali is unavailable. Jake Libby and Haynes were handed their Blast debuts for the Rapids.
The Rapids were put into bat after Steelbacks captain Josh Cobb won the toss.
Hamish Rutherford (5) collected the first boundary from the first ball of the opening over from Cobb with a sweep around the corner before he was caught at mid off from a leading edge in the next over from Ben Sanderson.
Haynes immediately looked in good touch and raced into double figures with two boundaries in an over from Nathan Buck and he then swept Stirling to the ropes.
He had raced onto 20 from 14 balls by the end of the six over powerplay with the total on 38-1.
The 50 came up in the eighth over before Riki Wessels (18) went for a big hit against Glover and saw his leg stump broken. Haynes continued to impress, striking Graeme White for six over long off, until his dismissal – well caught at deep mid wicket off Stirling.
Stirling trapped Brett D’Oliveira lbw and Libby, after making a composed 24, fell to a good catch at wide long off from the bowling of Josh Cobb. After Ross Whiteley (2) holed out to deep square leg off White, Ben Cox kept the score ticking along in making 19 before he departed to a catch a deep mid wicket from a Saif Zaib delivery.
When the Steelbacks replied, Pennington was unfortunate to see Richard Levi edge the very ball of the innings for four. He finally picked up a deserved wicket when Levi (33) picked out the safe hands of Whiteley at deep square leg after a stand of 107 with Stirling.