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The Sweep 23 Week 15: Dog Days and Grey Skies

Words: Simon Travers


In Major League Baseball, they talk about the ‘dog days of August’. With their monumental 162 game seasons, there are moments where you have to get through even when things start to grind. For the best teams, August is about conserving energy so you have something in the tank for September. For some teams, the die is cast for the year and the gaze shifts to next season and what the youngsters might be capable of. Dog days happen, although if you happen to be a fan of the Oakland A’s or Kansas City Royals who are guaranteed losing seasons with more than 40 games left to play, at least you can rely on the weather. This Saturday was a dog day at Cornwood that came with dark grey skies.

Every team that Cornwood put out this weekend that were able to play lost. The Fours match against Whitchurch 2XI was cancelled for weather. The Fours are 6th in G Division West, 17 points clear of relegation with games left against the two bottom teams.

The Ones travelled to The Maer at Exmouth for a mid-table clash. Exmouth have fitted comfortably back into Premier Division life this year after a season in A Division. Cornwood had won their last four encounters including a tight match at Oak Park earlier in the year. Exmouth’s season CV includes a home win at Sidmouth and an away win at title favourites Sandford. They may not be the dominant side that were champions 8 times in the 1990s, but Exmouth are legit.

Stepping in as captain, Ben Beaumont won the toss and elected to field. That choice yielded early results as Matt Skeemer (10-3-31-3) was able to remove both of Exmouth’s openers, South African Jason Niemand and Devon county player James Horler, to put the hosts on 51-4. The importance of those wickets was underlined on Sunday as Horler made 165 in 225 balls against Cheshire in the NCCA Championship.

Exmouth have more batting bonus points than any other team in the Premier Division, but any hopes a rare collapse might be underway were scuppered by a 95 run 5th wicket partnership between Dan Pyle (69 from 92) and captain Finlay Marks (78* from 115). The pair were able to take advantage of The One’s limited bowling options this week. Dan Pyle was the more aggressive batter earlier in the innings. When he became one of Lee Baker’s two victims, Pyle guided the lower order to a total of 237-7.

A quick word about Lee Baker. His wickets in this game keep him in the top 10 Premier Division wicket-takers, one short of a 20 wicket league haul for the year. To this point in the season, Lee has now bowled just 3 less league overs than he did for the Ones in the Premier Division last season. He already has more wickets than last year, at a better average, with a faster strike rate and a cheaper economy. He keeps getting better. Imagine what Lee’s stats will be like when he’s still going in 2043.

The One’s reply spluttered early with the introduction of Jason Niemand’s offspin. His figures of 10-1-34-5 ripped out the heart of Cornwood’s middle order. When Matt Skeemer was caught on 20 from the bowling of Lawrence Greenway (8.4-0-37-3), The Ones were 89-6 and hopes of victory had vanished. A powerful late order blast from Adam Goodliffe, 31 from 28, helped bring the score to a respectable 171, but the hosts were too good on the day.

That loss puts the Ones fourth, tied on points with Bradninch & Kentisbeare but with one less win. In the next two weeks, The Ones have chance to read the last rites on bottom two North Devon and Bovey Tracey’s campaigns. Plympton did their survival chances a power of good with an away win at Bradninch. Sandford need two wins out of three to absolutely guarantee what is looking like their championship.

The Ones and Twos have kind of mirrored each other throughout the season, and so it was at Oak Park on Saturday as the Twos were overpowered by a good Brixham team. It’s this writer’s opinion that the Two’s best performance of the season was their away win at Brixham in June. It took something special that day to get past a good club that are back on an upward trajectory. This Saturday, captain Robin Dart only had one available member of the bowling attack that reduced Brixham to 89-7.

Batting first, Brixham posted an imposing score of 276-4. Opener Christopher Lanyon scored 13 boundaries on his way to 72 before his wicket was claimed by Sam Ford in his first game for the Twos. The real damage was done by captain Tom Hopper. He finished the innings unbeaten on 101* with 15 fours and a 6.

The Twos rarely give away 250 in an innings. However, you have to go back to 24th July 2010 to find a day when the Twos could match Brixham’s total batting second. Back in 2010, the Twos earned a draw scoring 285-7 in pursuit of North Devon 2XI’s 295-3. The highest successful chase since was the end of season beer match against Hatherleigh in 2021 when the team chased down 233.

The Twos got half-way there, living on a prayer, scoring 138. Bradley McKee’s spell of 9-0-21-2, followed by Lee Upham delivering 9-0-32-3, meant there was no let up from the visitors. There was something to celebrate in the middle of the innings as Sam Ford and Tom West put on 58 for the fifth wicket. Sam played with responsibility and verve while Tom attacked when able. In his three opportunities for the Twos this season, Tom West has brought a blend of warmth, experience and competitive spirit. He’s an asset to the club. Unfortunately for Tom, this time he ended up stranded at the non-strikers end on 48* as Matt Parsons (6-1-34-3) finished the inning with a triple wicket maiden. The loss puts the Twos fourth in C Division West, just like the Ones. They’ve won seven and lost four, just like the Ones.

F Division West has been one of the more open divisions in the league this year. With two teams promoted, a win against league leaders Paignton 3XI would have sustained the Threes’ outside shot at a promotion berth. Put into bat by the visitors, 82-4 represented a solid enough start when Evie Privett departed on 34. Evie was the first of Jon Russell’s (8-0-28-3) wickets, while Tim Ward also took 8-0-37-3. Joe Baker, playing his first game since moving from St Austell, impressed with 48 from 37 as the Threes reached 196-8 in their 40 overs.

It was team Hodge for the early breakthrough as Billy Criddle fell Caught Mike, Bowled Harrison. After that, nothing quite clicked for the Threes. The bowlers couldn’t find movement or exert the pressure needed to eat into the Paignton line up. Jason Woodcock (81*) and Stuart Kirkup (87*) put on an unbeaten 168* for the second wicket to claim a 9 wicket win. The Threes drop to fifth, tied on points with Chudleigh 2XI but with one less win.

On Sunday, there was good news and bad news for the Ladies One’s. The good news was that across the five Devon Women’s League games played on Sunday across two divisions, only Paignton 1XI were able to score more runs batting first than Cornwood. The bad news was that the Women’s Ones were skittled for 77 by champions-in-waiting Exeter. Becky Harris top scored with 21, while Frances Dennehy was the pick of the bowlers with 4-0-16-3. Shini Al Khalid fought her way to figures of 6-0-22-2, but Exeter chased the total down in 21.5 overs with 7 wickets spare. The Women’s Ones are also fourth, with a bit of work to do yet to ensure Division One status next season.

There are only three weekends left in the season. Come Saturday, it’ll be fourteen days left until the league season ends and the 238 day countdown clock to the 2024 season will begin. One last push. Let’s all make it special.

Weather permitting, there’s three away games in three days against Plympton next weekend. The Under 19s continue their T20 campaign away at Plympton on Friday night at Harewood Park. The Ones play North Devon at Oak Park and the Threes face Yelverton 2XI. The Twos are on the road to Ashburton and the Fours head to Delganey for their match against Plympton 3XI. Come Sunday, the Women’s Ones are away at Plympton, at Langton Park in Yelverton.

If you get the chance this week, let’s get to the club and get behind the teams. Also, don’t forget to order your tickets before 2nd September for the Cornwood CC annual dinner and dance. Information is available through our social media accounts.


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