Words: Simon Travers
Second XI Pictures: Ivor Thomas
Cricketers often gain the reputation of being superstitious. I can understand why. Last season, the last time my son was playing at Delamore Park while I was scoring at Oak, I stepped out to watch him bat while on a drinks break. He was immediately out. I learnt my lesson and wasn’t making that mistake again yesterday. I sat in my box through drinks and did not move and the boy did OK. I reckon my efforts must have helped earn the Thirds almost half a batting point.
A silly example to ask an important question. When cricket, a difficult game with repeated failure built in as standard, is going really, really, very well; when is it ok to say that? Is it actually possible to jinx it?
League positions don’t lie; so I’ll report them. Coming into the weekend, the Ones are early pace-setters in the Premier Division. They were the only team unbeaten through May. The Twos are second place and in contention for promotion in C Division. The Women’s Ones have started well in Division 1. It’s going really well.
The Ones took their unbeaten league record to the iconic Fortfield in Sidmouth. It was perhaps a good toss to lose for captain Elliott Staddon. Pitch and weather conditions suggested batting first, but that comes with pressure. The team batting first at the Fortfield have only won four times since the start of last season, including The Ones memorable chase of 291. In choosing to bat, Sidmouth had to be targeting 300 as a minimum.
The early going favoured the Sidmouth openers with 50 on the board in the first 7.5 overs. Skeemer then Staddon picked up wickets to bring Bryce Parsons to the crease. With 393 runs in May, including 2 big centuries against Heathcoat and Plympton, the South African is arguably the hottest wicket in Devon. Cornwood became the first league team to dismiss Parsons for less than 50 as Matt Skeemer took the catch from Ben Beaumont’s bowling on 44. Beaumont’s extra bowling session in the nets on Friday night paid off as he finished with figures of 10-2-30-3. With Parsons gone, Cornwood’s swarm of spinning B’s (Beaumont, Bista, Baker and Ormsby) took over and collapsed the middle and lower order to leave Sidmouth on 210. These four bowlers combined for 23.3-5-70-7. Cornwood are still the only Premier team with maximum bowling points from the games available. That the only Ones player in the top 10 Premier Division wicket takers is Lee Baker speaks to a bowling unit that is filled with hungry pack hunters.
Sidmouth supporters may have been aware that their side’s total of 210 was exactly what Max Finzel and Jay Bista put on for the first wicket last season. This time, they put on 69 together before both fell to Will Murray (10-2-44-2). 96-2 represented both a good start and a long way from home with 30 overs remaining. The key partnership was between Ben Beaumont (75 from 93) and Ryan Rickard (54 from 78). Putting on 112 for the third wicket, the pair generated a momentum that the Sidmouth bowlers could not slow. Through the partnership, Sidmouth could not join the dots to force a maiden. The match ended oddly as the Ones lost 2 wickets with 3 runs needed and the last ball was a wide. Overall though, this was an impressive performance with Ben Beaumont outstanding with both ball and bat while surrounded by a great team effort. The Ones remain top of the Premier Division, six points ahead of Bovey Tracey who put away the struggling North Devon.
Yelverton Bohemians are the kind of team that have some potential to present a banana skin to the Twos as they met at Oak Park. Although Yelverton were without some key first team players, jitters might have been caused by young speedster Alex Shutt claiming a first over wicket. Any nerves were soon settled by Chris Parker and Aaron Richard’s 106 partnership for the second wicket. Parker took the lead and reached 50 first. He finished on 53 from 50 balls before getting trapped LBW by Richard Townsend’s stuttering left arm seam. After reaching his 50 in 55 balls, and his 100 in 108 balls, Aaron pushed on to bat through the whole innings with an exceptional 133* from 135 balls with 19 fours. Aaron has represented Cornwood for 12 seasons, last week registering his 2500th league run across the club, but he has never made a century before. In reaching that achievement, Aaron batted like a hawk. He was patient, controlled, waiting for the moment to drop from the sky upon an unsuspecting leg-side delivery. The Twos went into tea at 270-4 from their 45.
After the interval, the Twos gave their visitors a generous head start with the new ball of 70 runs in the first 10 overs before Chris Parker took a good slip chance from Ethan Carlisle. After that, it was spin again that worked for the Twos, the experienced hands of Jason Hall (9-3-21-3) and Robin Dart (5-0-22-2) were supported by the fresh faced Joe Davies (4.3-0-37-2). Josh Goodliffe (3-1-7-2) also hit the stumps twice as Yelverton’s resistance faltered at 166.
Over at Delamore Park, The Threes put in the most encouraging performance of the weekend with an 18 run victory over Bridestowe 2XI. Winning the toss and batting, a positive 39 from Ewan Horner got the Threes going. Wickets fell though and when last week’s 50 hitting hero Mike Hodge had to retire after 3 balls, the team were in trouble at 79-5. The Under 15’s Rocky Travers and Sam Ford made a critical 40 partnership in 9 overs to build enough of a platform for Duncan Cumberland to launch from. Duncan finished on 41 from 25 and the Threes closed on 174. Olly Mitchell’s off spin (8-0-34-3) was able to curtail a couple of dangerous innings from Bridestowe’s middle order, but at 108-4 the visitors must have considered themselves favourites. With Mike Hodge sidelined, his Under 15’s son Harrison had his dad on beer-holding duties as he delivered match-changing figures of 6-2-13-3 including 2 wickets in 2 balls. Bridestowe ended on 156. The Threes are a lot more comfortably placed in F Division west than 2 weeks ago.
Finishing Saturday’s round up, the Fours continue to show encouraging signs in a 5 wicket defeat against Paignton 4ths. The team batted their overs and claimed full batting points for the first time since 13th August last year. There were solid contributions from 4 through 8 in the order with Dave Tracey top scoring on 31*. The team spread the wickets around in bowling, didn’t let any Paignton players reach 50, and gave half as many extras as their opponents. Like the second pint in a long session, the Fours are starting to find their sweet spot and the opportunity to upset Whitchurch next week could help them find that extra edge for a first win.
Sunday was a busy day of cricket. Top performance of the day was the Women’s softball team beating Ivybridge away by 55 runs. The Women’s Ones travelled to North Devon and were put into bat by their hosts. Becky Harris and Laura Bale put on 106 for the third wicket before Laura was caught on 47. Becky finished on 63 from 90 as The Women’s Ones put on 178-7 in their 35 overs. That did not prove to be quite enough as North Devon’s top 3 all made solid contributions. It was Becky Harris again who led the bowling with 5.2-0-42-2. Kat Frost also continued her positive start to Cornwood life with an economical opening spell, a wicket and a run out. North Devon reached their target with 5 wickets and 10 balls spare.
The men’s T20 team fought a close match at Bovey Tracey before losing by 3 wickets. George Thompson made the most of being given opening duties with 59 from 46. Plenty of players chipped in but they struggled to deal with Bovey’s substitute Australian paceman Jonah Serong who took 4-0-11-2. Ashley Causley’s 59 from 39 provided the bulk of Bovey’s runs. Matt Skeemer and James Richardson had the best spells with the ball but Bovey made it home with 10 balls spare.
Next weekend, the Ones host Exmouth at Oak Park. The Twos make the trip to Brixham. The Threes are up against Paignton 3XI and the Fours have got Whitchurch at Delamore Park. On Sunday, the Women’s Ones get a swift opportunity to turn the tables as North Devon visit.