It may only be the first game of the season, but there is a sense that Rugby’s battles from 2016/17 may be over.
A magnificent unbeaten 123 by James O’Brien was backed up by a half-century to youngster Campbell Rose (69) and contributions from Ben Wheeler (32), Jordan Murphy (30) and Aidan Bennewith (36).
This enabled Rugby to make 8-319 on day one of their clash with CYMS, a big effort considering they didn’t have the services of representative duo Jordan Moran and Ben Patterson, and Nathan Munro didn’t get among the runs.
A representative-level player in his own right, O’Brien came to the crease with the score at 2-118 in the 34th over.
And 41 overs later he was still there, unbeaten in an innings which featured 13 boundaries and five 6s.
It was a tough initiation to captaincy for the Cougars 18-year-old leader Ben Knaggs, who didn’t shirk the task and led from the front by getting through 17 overs and taking 2-68.
Nick Guthrie (2-49) and Brock Larance (2-58) also got among the wickets on a day when it was hard for bowlers in any of the top grade games to penetrate, and big scores were the norm.
CYMS will have plenty of work to do next week when they take to the crease, but they will be aided by the return of Thomas Nelson, while Larance will get the chance to show his wares with the willow after performing well at the National Under-17s Championships.