Horsham got their 2017 campaign up and running with an emphatic nine-wicket Gray-Nicolls T20 Cup win at fellow Sussex League Premier Division opponents Brighton & Hove on Saturday.
Opener Ryan Maskell ended unbeaten on 78 from only 43 balls as Horsham successfully chased down the 149 target set by Brighton.
Liam Smith fell 25 short of his century as Brighton & Hove posted 148 for eight from their 20 overs.
Horsham had no troubles in reply, though, with Maskell (78*) and fellow opener Craig Gallagher (46) helping their side reach 152 for the loss of one wicket with 27 balls to spare.
Ed Clark, Horsham cricket manager, believes dismissing Brighton opener Phil Salt early in their innings was a pivotal moment.
He said: “It was a great way to start the new season. I think we were the only Premier Division team to be drawn against another side from the same league, plus we were away from home.
“Getting rid of Phil (Salt) early was a massive moment. He’s been performing well for Sussex’s 2nd XI of late and he could have easily taken the game away from us.
“It was a good performance all round. From a bowling, fielding and batting perspective it was just want you want from a first game in the new season.”
After being asked to field, David Croshaw got rid of Salt (17) to leave Brighton 47-1.
Simon Hetherton (one) and Bryce Hounsome (same score) came and went in quick succession as the home side slumped to 59 for three.
Opener Smith stuck around before falling for 75, which he made from 50 balls.
Contributions of 18 by both Waheed Safi and skipper Chris Grammer helped Brighton post 148-8 in 20 overs.
John Aston took two wickets, while Mika Ekstrom, David Croshaw, Michael Munday and Jonathan Whiting all took one each.
Maskell (78 not out) and Gallagher (46) shared an opening-wicket stand of 109 to put Horsham within touching distance. Skipper Michael Thornley then ended unbeaten on 17 to guide his side to a nine-wicket win.
Horsham get their Sussex League Premier Division season started at Preston Nomads on Saturday.
The game will be played under the new 40-overs per-side win/lose format and Clark is excited ahead of a new challenge.
He added: “We’ve been handed two tough games to start but you have to play everyone at some stage of the season.
“I think the new limited-over matches will make for some exciting cricket. Bowlers will be restricted in terms of overs, so teams won’t be able to rely on one bowler to bowl the bulk of their overs.
“It’s going to make for some interesting matches and I think captains will be under a bit more pressure juggling things around.”