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The Sweep 22 Week 10: Three out of Four Is Better Than Not Bad.

Words : Simon Travers

Match Photos : Ivor Thomas


If you get your Cornwood match updates via the Play-Cricket Live phone app, you’ll be aware that they provide a win probability prediction for league matches. These predictions are often entertainingly imprecise. Any algorithm could take into account home advantage, average runs scored, league position and head to heads but still be stumped by half the team being off on a stag do. If you took those probabilities on face value to a bookmaker, then you could have expected odds of 14-1 on a Cornwood clean sweep of wins this week. Could the teams deliver on such handsome odds?

The Ones made the short trip to Mountwise in Plymouth. Speaking to the Devon Cricket website this week, Elliott Staddon said that the aim for the season’s second half was to ‘play good positive cricket and stay in the division.’ The Ones could be encouraged by knowing that the average points score for 8th place in the Premier in the past five seasons (not including 2020) is 186, while the average for 9th is 181. Theoretically, if the Ones can replicate their form in the first half of the season then they’ll do enough to stay up, but the margins are tight.

Though they visited a struggling Plymouth team hoping to recover from successive defeats to Sandford, Bradninch and Sidmouth, the Ones could not consider themselves clear favourites. Play Cricket records show Cornwood 1XI had yet to beat Plymouth 1XI in a Devon League match in the 21st Century. The hosts chose the high summer obvious option to bat after winning the toss. While opener Teddy Haffenden got a first baller after a wide from Matt Skeemer for the perfect start, the Plymouth batters settled. A 76 run second wicket partnership between Joe Hagan-Burt and Oliver Parsons was rudely interrupted by team work between Jay Bista (8-1-26-3) and keeper Noah Carlisle to remove Hagan-Burt. That started a mini collapse as Plymouth faded to 82-5, with Carlisle adding a second stumping to two catches in the innings.

A middle order counter attack was mounted with a 61 sixth wicket partnership from Plymouth captain Richard West and Johnny Varcoe, until Lee Baker removed Varcoe to leave the hosts 143-6. Earlier this year, Plymouth pushed from 147-7 in 30.2 overs to a final total of 232. Lee Baker (7.5-1-18-4), like a wrestler pulling out their finishing move to send the fans home happy, took the last 3 Plymouth wickets in five balls to leave the hosts on an under-par total of 145.

Any hopes Plymouth harboured of engineering a low-scoring nail biter were soon erased as all clocks at the ground were reset to BST, Bista Scoring Time. Falling just eight short of recording back to back centuries, Jay Bista dismantled the Plymouth attack with 92 in 55 balls with 15 fours and 2 sixes. Consecutive bowlers were hit out of the attack as Jay and Max Finzel made a first wicket partnership of 125 in 17 overs. Jay departed after a catch from the bowling of Adam Talbott after hitting 20 from him in the over. Max Finzel continued his consistent form to finish on 42* as the Ones crossed the finish in 20.5 overs. Whatever the history books say, the scorecard and Premier League table confirm the same. Right now, the Ones are the best in West Devon.

At Oak Park, the Twos were looking to record their fourth win on the trot against Kingsbridge. High pressure and temperatures meant the ground had an enveloping snugness more suited to a feet up fireside chat at your Nan’s on Boxing Day than 45 overs a side in July. With the visitors electing to bat, it was the Two’s seamers with the early Christmas presents as they collectively conceded 35 wides in the first 17 overs. Kingsbridge were looking ominous at 122-2 in 21 overs. Their season’s star player Adriaan Maxwell (wears number 4, bats number 4, has the fourth most runs and fourth most wickets in C Division West going into this match), was firing with two consecutive sixes against Matt Tamsett.

Match momentum changed dramatically and permanently as Jack Brown and Matt Tamsett claimed 3 wickets in 2 maiden overs between them. The pick of the wickets was Tamsett’s crucial dismissal of Adriaan Maxwell. Fielding at deep midwicket, Ben Griffiths made his second exceptional catch of the season to rival his gully grab at Teignmouth. Maxwell hit a powerful line drive that would have cleared the boundary, except that Ben, moving rightward at speed took a full stretch diving catch cleanly two metres from the rope. Tamsett (9-1-30-2) and Brown (9-2-19-2) were able to keep applying pressure and James Richardson (8.1-1-26-4) was able to dash any meaningful aspirations of a Kingsbridge recovery as they stuttered to 172.

Ben Griffiths was also the stand out performer with the bat leading a confident chase that reached its target with nearly 10 overs spare. Scoring 66 from 88 with 9 fours and a six to record his first club fifty since 2019, Ben demonstrated his customary power and strong defence and, with Jack Brown and Harry Woolway, attacked the Kingsbridge fielding with aggressive running. Jack (34), Harry (35*) and Robin Dart (31*) all added thirties for a convincing win that clearly establishes the Twos as fourth in C Division West.

It is time for a Josh Wood appreciation paragraph. Josh is not just the Three’s captain this year, he is Mister Threes. Thirty four different players have appeared for the Threes in the first half of the season, but Josh is the only player to play every game. Leading from the front as opening batter against Babbacombe 2XI, yesterday was a special day for Josh as he hit his second century for Cornwood and his first on home turf. Batting through the forty overs, Josh made 110* in 120 balls. He tops the club batting honours chart, pipping Jay Bista into second place for the second time this season by virtue of a not out. Josh commanded the Threes innings and was able to draw on powerful drives, including one that cleared the South End sightscreen. His performance puts him into second place on the F Division West runscorer’s chart.

On the back of Josh’s ton, the Threes set a Babbacombe team that has only won two games this season a target of 214-7. Mike Hodge had an exceptional afternoon in the field. Mike bowled 8-1-14-3, took a catch and enforced a run out, and from the Babbacombe chat around the scorebox, it was clear he was inside the batter’s heads. Despite a late rally, the visitors were 19 runs short of their target and the Threes claimed their sixth win to climb up to third.

Could the Fours step up against a youthful Plympton 3XI to complete the 14-1 clean sweep? Anyone hoping so would be tearing up their betting slips like the punters after the Mexican night social horse race. The Fours provided a batting performance that was not quite up to the quality of the Delgany Sports Ground pitch. While Barrie Fitzpatrick chiselled away for 40 from 43 balls, five ducks at the other end set the tone as the Fours made 80. That was enough to make the Plympton batters work for 15 overs but not more. The only bright spot in the bowling was U15 Charlie Farmer claiming the wicket of Plympton U15 Jack Martin for the first time in adult cricket. Expect those two to cross swords through the years to come.

Next week, both the Ones and Women’s Ones look to complete a season’s double over Bradninch. The men are at Oak Park on Saturday, the Women head up the M5 on Sunday. The Twos look to put one over local rivals Plymstock, the Threes will be stocking up on sunblock as they head to Teignmouth & Shaldon and the Fours are home to Whitchurch.

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