Words: Simon Travers
First & Thirds Photos: Ivor Thomas
We start this week’s Sweep with a celebration as the Grounds team, led by Bradley Nicholls, won this year’s Devon Cricket Award for the best Volunteer Grounds Management Team. The team received the news at an awards presentation at the Taunton County Ground before Somerset’s match with Glamorgan. It’s been a massive year for the grounds crew, delivering consistently quality pitches on both Oak and Delamore Park tracks, while contending against a variety of weather challenges. Bradley received the award surrounded by the team; Kevin Mills, Dave Matthews, David Bailey, Jon Nicholls and Richard Friend. Charles Munford is also part of the grounds staff but was unable to attend. Congratulations, and thankyou again from the whole community. The Cornwood feeling; that magic deep breath when you park up that reminds you that you never really want to be anywhere else, is a little miracle conjured out of your dedication and effort.
There were also runner’s up awards given to Helen Nicholls for the Unsung Hero award and Andy Rickard for Lifetime Achiever. Both recognitions thoroughly deserved for incredible people doing incredible work.
The Ones, Twos and Threes were all back to winning ways on Saturday as the focus of the season turns towards delivering performances while enjoying the cricket. The Ones hosted a North Devon team heading to A Division, plagued by batting inconsistency. Coming into the game, only one player, Jack Moore, had a batting average above 20. That compares with six last season.
The new ball partnership of Skeemer and Staddon immediately worked their old time spell on the visitors batsmen. Matt Skeemer’s confidence was high after he delivered a match-winning 6-41 for Devon CCC in the National Counties Championship earlier in the week. It took him just six balls to rearrange opener Julian Hayter’s stumps. That set the tone for an immediate collapse. North Devon fell to 18-4 when Ben Beaumont caught dangerman Jack Moore from Elliott Staddon’s bowling. Skeemer (10-3-37-2) and Staddon (10-1-26-3) both bowled through with the visitors 69-5 after 20 overs.
Jack Popham drew on his vast experience to try and construct a rebuild. He stuck to the task to with an unbeaten 53* from 91 balls. At the other end, Jack Ormsby was wrecking havoc as he worked towards exceptional figures of 10-4-10-4. Jack has bowled with impressive economy through the season. His Premier Division economy rate is just 3.23, the fourth best in the Premier Division for bowlers with 3 or more wickets. This week, he was able to cash in as North Devon’s batters could not find answers for his turn and accuracy. North Devon ended on 137.
A low score meant that time was always on the Ones side, but it proved an attritional chase. A 47 run third wicket partnership between Ben Beaumont and Noah Carlisle gave backbone to the innings as wickets were a prized commodity. Beaumont’s consistency at the top of the order has been key for the Ones this year. This week, he scored 44 from 71 with 4 fours and 2 sixes. Patience was the watchword for the Ones innings. They know that momentum can swing fast late in a match. Holding their nerve, the winning line came with seven overs and five wickets spare as Elliott Staddon deposited Archie Popham for a final six.
That win keeps the Ones fourth, still tied on points with Bradninch & Kentisbeare. Sandford survived a wobble at home to Plympton and a 19 or 20 point win next week will see them crowned champions. Bovey Tracey are currently 15 points south of Plympton in 9th as their losing streak stretched to 10 games. In A Division, Exeter are promoted while Kilmington have the edge over Torquay for second place.
The Twos travelled to Ashburton, this season’s kings of the tough beat. Ashburton have bowled both Brixham and Ivybridge out for under 100 and failed to chase. They’ve got within 6 runs of Stoke Gabriel, 9 of Plymouth 2XI and 2 wickets of Yelverton. They’ve hit 254/8 against Ivybridge and seen it chased. From a certain point of view, Ashburton’s bad luck was the difference again on Saturday. Handy lower order batter Greg Robinson had a mid-match visit to minor injuries after dislocating his finger. Jonathan Malan was not able to finish his overs as he split his finger webbing. Both bravely stepped into bat, but neither was able to score a run. The Twos 25 run victory could have been reversed had both stayed fit.
From another point of view though, the afternoon was all about Josh Goodliffe’s maiden century. In his 138th Devon Cricket League game, Josh carried The Twos to a total they could defend. It looked like Josh has been taking lessons from Zak Crawley’s school of opening. He took a while to settle and there were a few early false shots. He should have been caught on 34 as a standard chance was dropped on the midwicket boundary. However, like Crawley, Josh kept finding the positive option, the shot that put pressure on the bowler. Once he found his groove, he looked unstoppable. His 12 fours and 5 sixes were more about clean timing than power. A run a ball 104 was only cut short by a fine catch at long on by Matt Churchill. Chris Yeo (9-0-43-5) came back at the innings’ end to engineer a collapse that left the Twos all out on 197.
Andy Bees (9-4-12-2) and Dan Skeemer (7.3-0-24-2) worked well in tandem with the new ball and when young Stanley Baker held a juggled catch from Matt Puttock’s bowling, Ashburton were in trouble at 24-3. A 92 run 4th wicket stand between Daniel Coles (38) and Matt Churchill (46) brought the game back into contention before two smart short leg catches from Josh Goodliffe put the Twos ahead again. Luke Richardson stepped into the closer role, drawing a range of false strokes on his way to figures of 4-0-23-4. That was enough to get the Twos home for their eighth win.
Elsewhere in C Division West, Stoke Gabriel need 9 points against Yelverton next week to wrap up the title. Ashburton’s next game against Babbacombe will go a long way to clarifying who is dropping to D Division with Dartington and Totnes.
Josh Goodliffe was not the only centurion of the day as Ewan Grewal pulverized his second ton of the year for the Threes against Yelverton Bohemians 2XI. Yelverton are the classic “too good for G Division West, not good enough for F Division West” type of team. Put into bat, Yelverton scored 221 all out in their 40 overs. M. Goff (41) and F. Smales (40) had creditable innings but were both put in the shade by W. Ides’ dominant 63 from 38 balls. There were positives in the field as James Bowden nonchalantly took a high class catch on the boundary while Josh Whiting took 3 for 46.
Despite their competitive total, Yelverton appeared anxious in the field, fiddling with placements, dropping multiple chances, constant twitchy chatter, buzzing like a fridge or a detuned radio. Ewan Grewal acted as the chief constable of the Karma Police, a one-man riot squad. You have to stop Ewan early or not at all. Yelverton had no answers to his onslaught as Ewan scored 147* in 99 balls with 14 fours and 9 sixes. That phenomenal effort that got the Threes home with six wickets and three overs spare. Across all DCL divisions, with a minimum of 3 innings, Ewan is eighth in the county for average and twentieth for strike rate. He is in the form of his distinguished career.
Having looked more comfortable in G Division West for most of the season, the Fours enter the last two weeks of the season back in a relegation fight. Their local derby game against Plympton 3XI started well, with Anthony Goodwin’s 8-1-21-3 contributing to Plympton being 55-6 after 18.4. A tough 57 from Robert McDonald and 29 in 75 balls from captain Sean Mortimer meant Plympton batted their overs and reached 132-7. In reply, the Fours lost wickets early too, falling to 18-4 and 48-6. Jamie Bailey, back in a Plympton shirt, caused the damage with 8-2-12-4. Dave Tracey and Simon Garland put on 37 for the 7th wicket, but another flurry closed The Fours account on 95. That leaves the team in 8th, just 4 points ahead of Plympton. They can expect no favours from PCS&R team chasing promotion next Saturday. The last day match against Bovey Tracey 4XI looks like a season definer.
On Sunday, the Women’s Ones also lost their away game to Plympton by 89 runs. Plympton’s strongest batters delivered as Jemima Vereker hit 78 from 109 and captain Stephanie Hutchins scored 38 from 44. Beth Vinnicombe was top wicket taker for the Women’s Ones with 4-0-25-2, while Shini Al Khalid and Kat Frost were both economical. Plympton reached 169-4 in their 35 overs. The Women’s Ones found batting difficult against a youthful Plympton attack. The team were only able to manage one boundary as wickets tumbled. With Becky Harris unable to bat, the team were all out for 80. Next week’s match up away at Hatherleigh got a bit bigger.
Next weekend, the Ones visit Bovey Tracey for their last road trip of the season, the Twos are at home to Kingsbridge, the Threes travel to South Devon and the Fours host PCS&R. The Women’s Ones travel to Hatherleigh on Bank Holiday Monday and the Under 19s face Plymouth.