No longer is Dan Redfern burdened by the knowledge that he has yet to score his maiden first-class century.
By hitting 110 on the opening day of the new campaign against Northants, the Derbyshire left-hander became the first batsman in the country to make it to three figures in the County Championship this season.
It was a sparkling innings, made off 143 balls with 13 fours against the backdrop of his side in trouble at 50 for four. Redfern and Ross Whiteley, another of the county’s young breed, turned that position around with a fifth-wicket stand of 160.
This was his 46th first-class appearance and his 77th innings but with the weight of waiting now removed, Redfern, who is still a few days short of his 22nd birthday, says he feels ready to fulfil his potential.
“It’s a mix of elation and relief,” said Redfern. “It’s been a long wait but thankfully it’s over now and I can just concentrate on getting more.
“It was hard, carrying that monkey on my back. I knew I had to get a hundred soon because the longer you wait the harder it gets. Now, hopefully, the fact that I’ve got two in a week means I can push on and get more in the near future.”
Five days earlier, Redfern made 120 in a pre-season friendly against Yorkshire and he said that was a big factor in his breakthrough Championship innings. “It wasn’t in a first-class game but that showed me I could do it,” he added.
“I played pretty much the same as I did then, trying not to get stuck in the 90s. I got a couple of boundaries away to get to 97 and managed to hit a three and said to Ross ‘you’ve just got to run’.
“He had to dive to get in and I thanked him straight away for putting his kit on the line for me to get to that hundred!
“I felt I hit the ball well all the way through pre-season, so it was just a matter of doing the same things I did against Yorkshire and Warwickshire. I wanted to stay positive and if it was in my area make sure I was confident and would hit it – block out the good ones and hit the bad ones basically.
“A massive thing for me is that Krikk (head coach Karl Krikken) has come to me and said he wants me to just go out and play my game. That means I can go out and play my shots when I feel confident enough to do that.
“It’s not a reckless thing, I’m not going out to play a shot a ball even if it’s not the right ball, but I feel confident if I think I can play the shot I have got the leeway from the coach to do that. That’s a nice feeling. In the pre-season and here today, that’s the way I like to play.
“One hundred doesn’t make a summer but I feel more confident than I ever have and I think I’m playing better than I ever have. I could go on a run of eight ducks now because you never know what’s around the corner but hopefully the signs and the way I’m feeling are suggesting this can be the year I can really kick on and stake my claim for higher honours.
“This is the time I’ve got to kick on and repay the faith that Derbyshire have shown me.”