TOM Prest put his personal development over the glitz and glamour of the Hundred – and the decision has already paid dividends for him and Hampshire, writes Alex Smith.

Prest didn’t put his name in the hat for the Hundred draft despite his stock being sky-high after an impressive breakthrough 2021 and his exploits captaining England to the Under 19 World Cup final during the winter.

Team-mates from that tournament, Rehan Ahmed and Jacob Bethall, both picked up lucrative deals, suggesting Prest would have stood a good chance of a contract.

Instead of risking a month of carrying drinks and sitting on the periphery – which would have brought positives itself – the 19-year-old committed himself to Hampshire’s Royal London Cup campaign, where he played a key role.

“I felt, being 19, that there is a lot of time,” said Prest when explaining his rationale for leaving himself out the Hundred and the potential for at least a £30,000 contract. “I didn’t want to get caught up in all that stuff coming out of the Under 19 World Cup.

“I just wanted to play for Hampshire as much as I could this year and gain the experience of playing.

“There was no guarantee that I would have been picked up, but hypothetically, if I had then I probably wouldn’t have started in the team.

“It would be a great experience playing in the Hundred or even being a part of the squad because you can pick so many great players’ and coaches’ brains.

“But I just wanted to be playing. Personally, it has also gone quite well.

“It might have been naïve to have turned down a potential opportunity, but if my career goes the way that I want it to, then there should be more opportunities in the future for franchise cricket when I am more ready for them. Hopefully, I’ll also be a better player for it.”

Wimborne-born Prest sprung to attention last year when he struck a triple century for the Second XI on the same day he sat his Geography A-Level exam (he got a B for the record).

That summer saw him make his professional debuts in all three formats, but it was during this season’s Vitality Blast where he scored three fifties on course to a winner’s medal that has turned him into a crucial member of Hampshire's squad.

He reflected: “Having the experience of last year of playing in the T20s and then the 50-over stuff was a great learning experience.

“Coming back into the county season after my winter with England under-19s has been good and I’ve been really pleased with how it has gone.

“To do what I have done this year and get a few good scores has been very good for my confidence. It has been pleasing to give the club something back after putting confidence in me."