CRAIG Haupt has broken new ground by becoming the first player to reach 10,000 runs in the Home Counties Premier League.

The 45-year-old had endured a seven-month wait for the accolade, having finished last season on a total of 9,981.

But a single glanced down to fine leg saw Haupt reach the milestone in Banbury’s opening match of the season last weekend, although it came in an 84-run defeat at Henley.

Born in Cape Town, he represented South Africa at under-19 level and played for Western Province, before joining Banbury as their overseas professional.

Neal Radford, the former Worcestershire and England seamer who played with Haupt at Banbury between 1996 and 2000 could see something special in him.

He said: “He was simply the best batsman in the league and went on to represent Oxfordshire at minor county level.

“Had he been English qualified, he may have gone onto higher things as he certainly was capable.

“Beyond his runs, he was a superb fielder and offered the team invaluable off spin.

“Craig was a complete team man through and through and to reach a milestone of 10,000 in the Home Counties Premier League is magnificent.”

The Home Counties league was formed in 2000, when the leading clubs from the Cherwell, Thames Valley and Hertfordshire leagues joined forces.

Haupt, who has also taken 154 catches, finished as the league’s top-scorer in 2002, when he racked up 910 runs, and again topped the figures four years later.

He still holds the record for highest partnership, set in 2001 when with 200 not out in an unbroken opening stand of 325 with Andrew Sabin against Beaconsfield.

To show his longevity, he is now vice-captain to Sabin’s son, Lloyd.

Former Banbury skipper Jimmy Phillips said: “During the first six or seven years of the league he was simply a class apart.

“His runs led Banbury to the title in 2000 and two years later when half of that side had retired he, as captain and through sheer weight of runs, carried a side of teenagers through several relegation battles.

“We were never relegated.

“I am also convinced he was the best slip fielder in the country, at any level, in the late 90s and early 2000s.”

Two decades on Haupt is still going, despite having a major knee operation in his early 40s.

And he will be looking to extend his record by adding to the 24 centuries and 57 half-centuries, while preserving Banbury’s unblemished presence in the top-flight, this season.