Jon Hudson performed a vital rescue mission for his Waterlooville side as they started life in the Southern Electric Premier League with a bang.
The Waterlooville skipper arrived at the crease with his team in serious trouble at 30 for four having got off to the worst possible start in their division three encounter with Portsmouth & Southsea.
After winning the toss and batting first, Hudson saw opener James Scutt and Alex Shephard both depart without a run on the board as Jon Willey (four for 28) did the damage.
And at 58 for five, the Rowlands Avenue outfit were staring down the barrel – a stark contrast to last season when they cruised to the Hampshire League title without losing a game.
But Hudson hit a fine 77 and Sam Hillman cracked 65 as the duo put on a match-winning 139 runs for the sixth wicket after Hillman made the most of being given an extra life early in his innings when he was dropped.
And despite stand-in skipper Paul Barsby (three for 29) grabbing some late wickets for Portsmouth & Southsea, Waterlooville were able to post a competitive 221 as they were bowled out in the final over.
Portsmouth & Southsea were in good shape as Ryan Way (32) and Matt Benfield (59) eased them to 96 for two.
But after Benfield fell to Max Goddard (three for 36), Danny Durant (two for 19) and Hillman (two for 20) cleaned up a frail batting line-up where nobody reached double figures from number five downwards.
That saw them bowled out for 150, which clinched a 71-run win for Waterlooville.
A modest Hudson said: ‘I haven’t had a very good couple of years and I haven’t quite clicked with the bat so it was nice to get some runs.
‘I gave myself a bit of time and a chance to get some runs.
‘I came in and we were 30 for four so I had a long time to bat!
‘But it was just a case of survival for the first part of it.
‘Sam and me have batted together for years throughout all the age groups so we know each other’s game plan.
‘He was dropped early on but he batted beautifully and took a lot of the pressure off me when I took a little while to get going.
‘But that partnership took us from a real struggle to a strong position.
‘I was chuffed to get 77 but I was more relieved, to be honest.’
Portsmouth & Southsea have now managed to beat the weather since the start of the season but have lost all three games.
But they were not far away from getting themselves into a winning position, according to Hudson.
He said: ‘Matt Benfield batted really well but just lacked a partner. If he’d had one, we would have been in trouble.
‘They were going well at 96 for two and we needed a couple of moments of fortune.
‘Max Goddard bowled well and then Danny Durant got one of the best run-outs I’ve seen in club cricket. The ball was hit out to him and he slid in, threw it in one motion and it made a direct hit.
‘A lot of our guys were playing their first game at this level so it was a good team performance. We easily could have folded but there was plenty of grit and determination.’