Woodhall Spa batsman Ricky Lovelace proved he is back to his best after fighting cancer to star in an impressive win at Spalding on Saturday in the ECB Lincolnshire League.
The 30-year-old played just a handful of matches last year following the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of testicular cancer.
But he crashed a superb 102 not out as Woodhall made the best possible start to the new campaign.
Lovelace said: “Batting is hard enough at the best of times and there was no doubt I was out of form at the beginning of last season.
“I think some thought I may have been running away, but I also had the worry of the fact I had been to hospital and they had found a lump by chance.
“I had to get away from the game and focus on what was happening and more importantly spend time with my inspirational wife, little girl and family.”
Lovelace worked overtime during the winter and that paid off of in his match-winning innings as Woodhall claimed a handsome 16 point victory after chasing down the home side’s 218-5.
After entering the fray at 34-2. Lovelace settled into his stride and brought his 50 up from 65 balls and continued to dominate the home attacked with shots all around the wicket.
Fittingly, he sealed the win with a lofted drive back over the bowler’s head for four, which in turn brought up his 100 from just 99 deliveries.
Prior to this, Spa had found themselves in trouble at 87-5, but Lovelace found allies in the shape of wicket-keeper Jack Timby and then debutant Ross Dixon.
Firstly, 15-year-old Timby played a busy and impressive innings that showed his talent and together with Lovelace, they took the score to 139 before the former was bowled.
With 80 needed, Dixon played his part, finishing unbeaten on 29 from just 22 balls.
Earlier in the piece, overseas’ star Malinga Bandara was the pick of Spa’s attack with Dixon and fellow newcomer Joe Irving impressing.