MAGICAL Martin Guptill smashed the quickest-ever T20 century by a Worcestershire player as the Rapids powered to a nine-wicket win over Northamptonshire Steelbacks in the Vitality Blast at Wantage Road.
The New Zealander reached three figures off just 35 balls, with seven sixes and 12 fours, as the Rapids reached their 188 target in only the 14th over.
It surpassed the previous fastest T20 ton by a Worcestershire player, former captain Ben Smith’s 42-ball hundred against Glamorgan at New Road in 2005.
Guptill’s hundred was the fourth quickest ever in T20 domestic cricket and the second fastest-ever in English cricket behind the 34-ball ton by Andrew Symonds for Kent against Middlesex in 2004.
“It was a bit of fun,” said Guptill. “I’ve struggled over the last few innings and to be able to go out there and put a score on the board for the boys and get us back on the winning trail was pretty pleasing.
“I struggled a bit early on but then got a couple away, and got lucky with a couple, and it went on from there and you keep riding your luck.
“It’s not a big ground and it’s a good wicket here so you could actually hit through the ball and, if the ball is in the slot, you can back yourself to clear any boundary.”
The opener tore the Steelbacks attack to shreds as the Rapids got back on the winning trail with a fifth success in seven games in the first half of the competition.
Guptill was given magnificent support by Joe Clarke, whose 61 not out came from only 33 deliveries.
The big-hitting Kiwi was eventually dismissed for 102 from 38 balls with a strike rate of 275.67 and he departed from the middle to a standing ovation.
The partnership of 162 in 10.1 overs with Clarke was the second highest by Worcestershire in T20 cricket after the 175 by Vikram Solanki and Graeme Hick – also against Northants at Kidderminster in 2007.
Guptill had taken 20 deliveries to clock up his half century – the joint third quickest for the county in the T20 format alongside Gareth Andrew and behind Ross Whiteley in 18 balls and John Hastings in 19 deliveries against Yorkshire (Headingley) and Birmingham (Edgbaston) in 2017.
But he needed only another 15 balls to reach his century.
“Joe Clarke made me look slow at the start but I managed to catch up,” said Guptill. “He is hitting the ball really nicely at the moment and I’m having a lot of fun opening with him.
“With the start Northants had, they could have got more but with the way our bowlers bowled, taking wickets throughout the innings, really stemmed the flow of runs. Full credit to them for pulling it back.”