OPENERS Tom Morton and Jack Stearman hit centuries during a brutal, uncompromising assault on the Hampshire Academy’s inexperienced attack to power South Wilts to a nine-wicket win and back to the top of the ECB Southern Premier League.

They hit 130 and 107 not out, respectively, sharing a 233-run stand which carried South Wilts almost to within touching distance of the Academy’s 253 all out, with an hour to spare.

It was sweet revenge for the Bemerton-based Premier Division champions, who had been dumped out of the SPL’s T20 Cup by the county youngsters 48 hours earlier.

The crushing defeat came as a real eye opener to Academy who, whilst young and talented, were taught a real day-long cricketing lesson.

Bad news for Premier League bowlers is that Morton, having notched his 26th league century, appears back to his best and reproducing the form which won him the SPL’s batting prize three times from 2010 to 2015.

Particularly powerful against anything short, he simply destroyed any deliveries marginally off-line and on the ‘road’ of a Nursery ground strip Ageas Bowl groundsman Tom Cowley prepared there was no margin for error.

Morton plundered three sixes and 16 fours, with left-hander Stearman the perfect foil, steadily accumulating his second SPL century (his previous one also came against the Academy) as the Young Hawks attack wilted.

Morton did not get off to the best of starts this season, but now he’s firing on all cylinders.

“There was a good reason for that. Our second son was just born and I was understandably totally focused on that," he explained.

“I can’t say I’m doing anything different, but now everything has clicked."

Morton reckons that being back behind the stumps, as a stand-in while Ben Draper recovers from a finger injury, is also helping his batting.

He said: "It does help as the ball is coming at you all the time and it gets your eyes focussed. I've kept wicket throughout my career and I'm happier doing that than not, but hopefully it's a short- term thing and Ben recovers soon."

Morton praised the development of Stearman, his left-hand opening partner, who has made the number two position at the top of the South Wilts order his own.

He said: "Jack's having a good season. He's an unflappable character, very organised in his methods and he's on a bit of a roll now and cashing in nicely."

Morton and Stearman punished anything remotely off-line, the pair swatting four sixes and 29 fours during their double-century partnership, 82 of Morton's runs breached the boundary rope.

Their 233-run stand seriously threatened the South Wilts opening club record of 244 set by Ted Cosway and Brian White back in 1984, when Morton picked out Archie Fairfax-Ross at cover to give Oli Cordery the Academy's only wicket.

Minutes before his dismissal, Morton had scored his 400th SPL run in six knocks. The previous week he made 110 against Bashley (Rydal), literally hours after participating in a triathlon on Boscombe beach.

Stearman reached his century soon after while Jack Mynott completed the formalities inside the 53rd over.

The Hampshire Academy topped the log going into the match, primarily on the back of four straight 50-over 'white ball' wins.

They really ought to have posted a 300-plus score against South Wilts, but time and time again they frittered their wickets away.

Charlie Mumford (25) and Tom Cheater provided a 53-run start, but at 119-2 and after scoring a fine 72, Cheater mishit a juggling catch to mid-off and give Tom Grant (2-54) his second wicket.

Arguably the best batting period for the Academy came when Alton's Jude Wright and Joe Eckland were together. They progressed the score to 165, with both batsmen looking set.

But a chaotic run out culminated in a less than amused Eckland (13) being dismissed by a direct hit from Stearman and the Academy innings lost direction.

Bowling around the wicket, Mynott wheeled away productively, taking 4-37 as the Academy lost six wickets for 49 runs.

They were eventually bowled out for 253, six of their 64-over allocation remaining unused.

South Wilts seconds pulled off their best result so far by thrashing Southern Premier Division Three high fliers Sway by nine wickets at Bemerton.

They bowled last season’s Hampshire League runners-up out for 120 before Sam Litchfield hit 63 to lead them to an impressive victory.