WARWICKSHIRE’S Sam Hain believes it was a case of hard work and preparation paying off when he opened 2018 in style with a century on his England Lions debut against West Indies A in Antigua.
Just six days after departing snowy Birmingham following his surprise call-up, Hain smashed 144 (122 balls, 12 fours, five sixes) at Coolidge.
It was one of the most spectacular Lions debuts ever and continued the 22-year-old’s excellent white-ball form of the last two years.
Unfortunately for the Lions, it came in a losing cause, as did Hain’s 21 in the second game of the series before his unbeaten 54 (63 balls) lifted them to a consolation seven-wicket win in the third on Sunday.
The Lions tour overall gave the England camp much to think about after they lost series in both formats.
But Hain, who was called up after the Test series when Essex batsman Dan Lawrence was injured, fully seized his opportunity to impress in the one-dayers with 219 runs at an average of 109.50.
“It was good to get some runs, although it is never the same when the team loses so that took the gloss off it a little bit,” said Hain, who recently signed a new contract with the Bears to the end of 2021.
“I was pleased with my form though and it was nice to see all the hard work I’ve put in this winter pay off.
“It’s been a busy winter, first in Bangladesh where I didn’t play in the Premier League but did a lot of work in the nets, then back with the Bears.
“Just before I came out to Antigua I had some white-ball sessions in the nets at Edgbaston with Ian Westwood and they really helped.
“Then out here I had some really good practice sessions against spin before the first game.”
Hain’s superb century in the series-opener arrived in what was pretty much a one-man pursuit of a target of 273.
In at number three, he added 52 with Nick Gubbins but after the Middlesex man departed, the Lions collapsed from 83 for one to 128 for eight.
But with support from tail-enders Richard Gleeson and Matty Parkinson, Hain launched a spectacular counter-attack which saw the last two wickets put on 139.
A sensational victory was in sight when Hain was caught on the boundary in pursuit of a six which would have taken the scores level.
“I had a pretty heavy cold and wasn’t feeling very well so it was all a bit of a blur, to be honest,” he said.
“But when I got my feet moving things went well. When we were 120 for eight a lot of the crowd went home but I think we gave the ones that stayed some good entertainment.
“From where we were, to go into the last over needing just eight was a good effort and then I hit one well but just kept it a bit too low and was caught on the boundary.
“It was a good start for me, now hopefully I can build on that in the North v South series and the MCC v Essex match out here and carry it on in into the new season with Warwickshire.”