South African new boy Ed Verrall made his mark with bat and ball for Billingshurst on the opening day of the Sussex League season
The overseas hit 65 and then claimed 4-35 with the ball as Hurst secured a tense five-run victory away at Bognor Regis.
The visitors won the toss and opted to bat in the Division 2 clash and skipper Tom Haynes (five) and Scott Stratton (39) put on 31 for the first wicket.
Verrall, batting at three, then shared four partnerships including Mike Burroughs (32) and Andy Barr (27) to take the score to 184-5.
The last five wickets then fell for 18 runs, leaving Billingshurst, who were relegated from the Premier Division last season, with a total of 202. Josh Sargeant (2-36), Sam Adams (3-29) and Joe Ashmore (4-28) did the damage in the Bognor attack.
In reply, the home side lost two quick wickets to leave themselves 30-2, before Mikey Harris set about his topscore of 77 – before he was bowled by Hayes (3-24).
He had helped boost the score to 158-6 and Josh Seward (30) then saw the score to 194-8, leaving the game very much in the balance.
But with nine runs needed for victory and two wickets in hand, Verrall claimed the scalps of the final two batsmen to hand Hurst victory.
Barr (1-35) and Alex Lowther (1-38) had opened the Billingshurst attack, with Ben Williams also taking 1-38.
Williams said: “It was a fantastic start to the season seeing the lads not giving up until the very end.
“Tom showed he’s a natural captain and leader, not buckling under pressure and keeping his head, even when it got tight at the end.
“He made some key tactical decisions bringing the field up at certain times to make the batsman play big shots to get two wickets.
“And of course Ed played a key role in the win, he’s fitted in really well and I back him to be a key player throughout the year. Overall, I think we’ve got a really exciting season ahead of us.”
Billingshurst host division newcomers Portslade at home on Saturday.