OPENING batsman Josh Hardy scored his first century in Manning T1 cricket in style.
Hardy smashed an unbeaten 122 for Taree United in the clash against Taree West on a synthetic wicket at Rec 3. The 20-year-old hit nine boundaries in two sixes and featured in lengthy partnerships with Damon Minett (72) and later Ricky Campbell (45).
United had a hefty 275 runs in the bank at the conclusion of the allotted 40 overs and the bowlers did the rest, dismissing Taree West for 79.
Hardy is the Manning River Times-Iguana Sportstar of the Week, earning a $50 open order at Iguana. He was nominated by Taree United Cricket Club.
He is the second batter to post a T1 ton this season, following Wingham's Ben Cole.
While this is his first century in the Manning, it's his third overall, the other two scored in Newcastle. However, the 122 is his highest score
Hardy said he knew he was getting close to the three figures, but didn't let it dominate his thinking.
"I was just concentrating on not getting out and getting a few runs for United,'' he said.
There was a cheer from the team huddle when he finally achieved the milestone.
Hardy said it was tough going in steamy conditions.
"It was a hot day,'' he said.
"I was pleased when we got to the 40 overs. I wouldn't like to have been out there for another 40.''
Hardy was born in Taree, but moved to Newcastle when he was 10. Family was the reason he decided to return to the Manning.
"My sister's living here and so is my nan and pop,'' he explained.
"So I came home.''
It was also through a family connection that he linked with United.
"My younger brother is a mate of Jacob Smith, who plays for us,'' he said.
"Jacob's dad got me to play for United.''
Hardy was a member of United's premiership winning side last season.
He is confident United has the personnel to go back-to-back, with Great Lakes and Wingham the main obstacles.
He's batted a few places in the top order with United, but pressed he said he'd prefer to open.
Hardy had a reputation as a leg spin bowler who could bat a bit when he first came to Manning cricket. He admits he has no idea where that came from.
"I was only a part-time bowler in Newcastle,'' he said.
He's enjoying Manning cricket, saying it's 'more relaxed' than Newcastle.
The Mid North Coast inter-district Firsts competition will resume next month after a break of a few years and Hardy is keen to have a run with Manning should he gain selection.
When summer gives way to winter, Hardy plays rugby league with the Old Bar Pirates reserve grade, where he's a hooker.
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