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The village Sunday league at Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales witnessed an innings of rare belligerence when 18-year old Oliver Hardaker smashed his way to the small matter of 329 runs in a 40-overs a side contest. Hardaker struck 27 fours and 28 sixes in his run-marathon that lasted 144 balls. Upper Wharfedale was the bowling unit that suffered the brunt of his fury. Though his innings featured in an amateur game, Hardaker outdid the efforts of Alistair Brown who scored 268 at the first class level in 2002, and Sachin Tendulkar who recently made 200 in an ODI against South Africa.
Hardaker’s achievement came after a late night out the previous day, celebrating a friend’s birthday that nearly made him miss the game. He looted 34 runs in one of the overs, hitting five sixes and a four. “I just kept playing my shots and didn't think about my score. It was a bit weird when I got to 100 with 27 overs left and I thought I could get something big here,” he said later.
“It was quite a cold day which really helped because I wasn't sweating and getting too flustered so I could just stay calm and concentrate. It felt like I was playing a video game or something.” Indeed.