Tom Prest’s decision to snub the Hundred pays off for him and for Hampshire

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Tom Perst put his personal development above the glitz and glamor of the Hundred and the decision has already paid off for him and Hampshire.

Perst didn’t put his name in the hat for the Hundred Draw earlier this year, despite his stock skyrocketing after an impressive breakout in 2021 and his exploits as England captain to the Under-19 World Cup final over the winter.

Rehan Ahmed and Jacob Bethell, two of his teammates from that tournament, both landed lucrative one-hundred contracts, suggesting Perst would have stood a good chance of a deal.

Rather than carry drinks and sit on the edge for a month, the 19-year-old committed to Hampshire’s Royal London Cup campaign. It has seen him score 402 runs, including a blistering 181 against Kent, to lead Hampshire’s points on their march to the semi-finals.

“I felt, as a 19-year-old, that there is a lot of time,” said Perst when explaining his reason for leaving the Hundred and the potential for a contract of at least £30,000. “I didn’t want to get caught up in all that hassle that comes out of the Under-19 World Championship. I just wanted to play for Hampshire as much as possible this year and get the experience of playing.

“There was no guarantee I would have been picked up, but hypothetically, if I had I probably wouldn’t have started on the team. It would be a great experience to play in the Hundred or even be part of the squad because you can choose so many great brains of players and coaches.

“But I just wanted to play at the moment and we have done very well as a side. Personally, it has also gone very well.

“It may have been naive to have turned down a potential opportunity, but if my career is progressing the way I want, then there should be more opportunities for franchise cricket in the future when I’m more ready. Hopefully I’ll be there too be a better player.”

Perst caught the eye last year when he hit a triple century for the Second XI on the same day he took his A-Level Geography exam. That summer, he made his professional debut in all three formats, but it was during this season’s Vitality Blast where he scored three fifties en route to a winners’ medal that made him a crucial member of Hampshire’s squad.

“Last year’s experience playing in the T20s and then the Over-50s was a great learning experience,” he said. “It has been good to return to the county season after my winter with England Under-19s and I am very happy with how it has gone.

“Doing what I’ve done this year and getting some good scores has been really good for my confidence. It’s nice to give something back to the club after they’ve put their trust in me.”

Perst has made himself an automatic pick in both white-ball formats, but still harbors strong ambitions to be part of Hampshire’s LV=Insurance County Championship side. The only problem is finding a position in a team that is currently second in Division One.

Perst, who can open or hit in the middle and add some useful offspin, said: “We’ve been battling for the championship this season and so it’s clearly going to be one of the hardest teams to get into.

“It’s a great challenge to join that team in the coming years. I would be very proud of that and something I’m really looking forward to trying soon.”

Hampshire – who lost just one game in the group stage – takes on Kent in the Ageas Bowl on Tuesday and Perst hopes to pass on his knowledge of the big game to his less experienced team-mates.

Perst was involved in two Vitality Blast Finals Days – a semi-final defeat, a win – and was also instrumental in getting Hampshire across the line in close games already during the Royal London Cup.

“The two final days I was in could not have gone differently,” said Perst. “Losing in the semi-final in 2021 and then winning the league this year means I’ve seen both sides and that can only help.

“One of the big things that was said before those Finals Days and the quarter-finals was to try not to do something extraordinary, but do ordinary things really well. That really appealed to me. We’ve had a lot of close games this year .” summer and that will only serve us well for the semi-finals and hopefully the final.

“It’s a great feeling at the club right now. We won 13 games on the bounce before losing to Glamorgan, but then came back to win the last two and be at the top of the group.

“That shows what good space we are in as a club and how confident everyone is. Everyone is talking about how winning becomes a habit and for us that has penetrated to three different formats.”

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