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The Sweep 23 Week 1: 4 washouts, 3 colts wins, 2 Devon Games and one Ian Devine.

Words by Simon Travers


Imagine what the founder members of Cornwood Cricket Club, Bill Horton, Major Parker and Jack Blackshaw, who established the club 69 years ago in 1954 would make of cricket in 2023. Maybe there would be a mix of pride and bemusement. T20 Uniforms, Play Cricket live and Duckworth Lewis might all be unsettling to a group who would wait another 9 years before limited overs games became a thing. There would be plenty to recognise though; welcoming hospitality with a good pint and a pasty, a family atmosphere, a connection to the village at large, Saturday morning’s anticipatory silence punctuated by birdsong and net practice, the freshness of the grass, the view.

As a conversation developed, we’d be able to tell the founders about how their club keeps growing, how the kitchen and viewing areas have been upgraded, how the colts section keeps bringing homegrown players through, and how, whisper it, it’s not completely unimaginable that by season’s end, Cornwood could be the first championship side to come from West Devon since Plymstock in 1972. In some senses, like Canadian rocker Bryan Adams, Cornwood’s summer of 69 are the best days of the club’s life.

Messrs Horton, Parker, and Blackshaw would surely recognise the achievement of Cornwood as the youngest established club in the Premier Division. The Firsts this year will go up against two teams celebrating their bi-centenary, North Devon and Sidmouth. At the Devon pace of life, there’s still space for Cornwood to be upstarts, innovators and fashion setters. The club certainly set a trend last season by recruiting Jay Bista who, with Paignton’s Divyaansh Saxena, raised the standard for overseas professionals in Devon. Everyone at the club is excited to welcome Jay back for the new season.

However, the rain that has been going since the start of March carried on to halt all four Saturday League matches. Saturday’s weather delivered the classic one-two punch, miserable all morning, then glorious in the afternoon when it was too late to do anything about it. The firsts were denied the chance to embrace the municipal delights of Harewood Park, as Plympton returned to the Premier Division for the first time since 2015. Sadly, the team’s opportunity to nip into the Plympton Library at tea to borrow the new Marian Keyes has been thwarted for this season. At Oak Park In C Division West, a strong Twos squad did not play against Dartington and Totnes. A Threes team with Nick Goodliffe included to ensure the average age of the squad was over 21 did not make the trip to Ashburton 2XI. The Fours did not host Hatherleigh 3XI at Delamore Park.

There was cricket on Sunday at Oak Park as Devon took on Cornwall in a T20 double-header with Ben Beaumont and Matthew Skeemer representing the ‘Wood. In the first match, Ben Beaumont top scored for Devon with a spirited 46 from 20 before being stumped off the bowling of Will McVicar. Devon made 123 and then forced Cornwall to fight for every run. In the end, the match was a tale of two last overs. Lewis Goldsworthy took a hat-trick to end Devon’s innings, while when Cornwall needed 8 from the final 6 balls, two boundaries from Tommy Sturgess got the Duchy over the line. In the second match, Devon’s attempt to set a competitive target vaporised when Callum Haggett’s casual attempt to get back into his crease as Chris Gibson threw his stumps down from mid on sparked a five-wicket collapse in nine balls. Christian Purchase took the aerial route with six sixes on the way to 66 from 31 balls as Cornwall knocked off the required runs in 12.1 overs to qualify for the national T20 finals day for the first time. The old Duke of Cornwall would be proud of his team had he not been distracted by some other business this weekend.

Before the match, a minute’s silence was held and the club flag flew at half mast as a tribute to Ian Devine, who passed away last week. Ian was a loyal and dedicated life member of Cornwood. He played in the early Devon Cricket League teams of the 80s and 90s and was also a panel umpire for many seasons. Ian played a major contribution in developing the club into what it is today, serving on committee roles for more than 20 years. He was a true gentleman, well known by many club members past and present, who always had the best interests of the club at heart. He will be sorely missed by everyone at the club.

As a true club person, Ian might have appreciated the encouraging start that the Colts section have made to the season. The Under 13s powered to a league win against Ivybridge and a friendly win against Ipplepen this week. A special shout out goes to Edmund Goodwin who is currently the club’s top wicket taker with 5 victims in just three overs across the two games.

The Under 15s started with an away win against a competitive Ivybridge team. Putting their hosts into bat, the U15s held early control through strong spells from Sam Ford and Harrison Hodge. The two complement each other well as a new ball pair. Sam provides the speed that leaves skilled batters playing and missing and Harrison provides the nagging accuracy that can bowl 4 overs and only concede one run on the leg side. Ivybridge clicked into gear in the second half of their innings with a trio of 42s from Will Moore, Harrison Steed and Extras to set an imposing total of 152-3.

Normally, with the light closing and an east wind biting, that would be enough for a win but Cornwood’s opening pair of Max Daniels and Rocky Travers put on 95 in 69 balls before Max retired with 52* in 32. That was Max’s second U15 fifty, both coming away at Ivybridge. Max and Rocky launched 19 balls to the boundary between them across the frozen tundra of Filham Park. Rocky kept applying himself through the Cornwood innings, and in the 18th over followed Max to register his maiden 50 in 62 balls. Josh Whiting played the finisher role with 26* in 13 balls as the U15s got home with 8 balls spare.

Next weekend, weather permitting, we try again. The Ones will host last year’s champions, Bradninch & Kentisbeare at Old Park. The visitors will be smarting after falling 2 runs short on Saturday when asked to chase 146 in 41 overs by Bovey Tracey. The Twos face a local derby away at Plymouth 2XI. The Threes host Stokeinteignhead and the Fours travel to Stover School to face Ipplepen 3XI. On Sunday, the Women’s Ones face Plymouth and Exeter at Mountwise in the Super 8s, while the Ones travel to Bridgewater in the first round of the ECB National Club Championship.

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