Words: Simon Travers
Photos: Ivor Thomas
As the Ashes ignited into fire over Edgbaston this weekend, maybe it is a good time to remember the famous saying of Hollywood scriptwriter William Goldman that ‘Nobody Knows Anything’. Nobody really knows if it’s ok to declare on 393-8 with your best batter still in. Who can tell if it is more important to have the better wicketkeeper or better impact player on your team? Statistics start to trace patterns that can help us guess, but nobody knows. Least of all the algorithmic virtual oddsmakers making predictions for the Play-Cricket app. A bookmaker believing their crystal ball reading ability would have offered odds of 7-1 for a Cornwood Saturday clean sweep of wins for the men’s teams.
The Ones came into the weekend as the strongest favourites on paper. They were unbeaten through six games, top of the table, travelling to a North Devon side who, after a strong showing last season, found themselves bottom and winless. The Play Cricket app pre-match had the Firsts as 70% likely to record the win.
That computerised judgement looked astute early after as Matt Skeemer found the edge of North Devon’s pro Shantanu Mishra and Josh Coker (6-0-22-2) claimed 2 wickets to leave the hosts at 42-3. Both Exmouth and Heathcoat have bowled North Devon out this season for under 100. Maybe that is why Jack Moore and Dan Bowser (39) took a cautious approach to progressing the innings. The batters were going at under 4 an over after 30, but crucially the next wicket would not fall until the 38th Over when Jay Bista had Bowser caught on 153-4. James Tyson immediately changed the tone. He hit the turbo thrusters with a first ball 6 from Jay. That developed into a match transforming late innings riot of 79 in 43 balls with 9 fours and 3 sixes. At the other end, Jack Moore continued to provide support as he worked his way to a super-solid 100 from 120 balls. North Devon went from 200/4 to finish on 277/6 in the last 6 overs.
In reply, a brief innings from Jay Bista meant that the responsibility fell to the rest of the Firsts batting squad. Max Finzel grasped the opportunity as he recorded his first ever century making 113 from 124 balls with 14 fours and a six. Max found a fluency and consistency in his strokeplay that built a platform to chase the steep 278 target. He played the leading role in partnerships of 64 with Ben Beaumont and 95 with Ryan Rickard. When he was caught and bowled by Ben Howe at the end of the 37th over, the Ones needed 97 from 13 overs with seven wickets remaining.
The opportunity for a win vanished though as Ben Howe pressed his advantage to take figures of 7.3-0-28-5. The Ones finished on 226 all out from 48.3 overs. With all the strengths the Ones have shown this season, they have struggled batting in the last 10 overs. Batting up to the 40th over, the Ones have a collective run rate of 4.60 and have lost 18 wickets at an average of 54.56. After the 40th over, the run rate increases to 5.21 but the team have lost 26 wickets at an average of 7.65.
The Ones become the last team to lose their unbeaten record in the Premier Division. No team has gone unbeaten through a Premier Division season since Sidmouth in 2009. Cornwood remain top of the league by a point over Heathcoat who beat Bovey Tracey in a blow-out. Sandford and Sidmouth are both within 10 points of first place too.
Back at a humid, sticky Oak Park, Ashburton presented the Twos with a challenge stronger than their record of one win this season suggested. The Twos won the toss and batted. They got a quick start with 40 in the first 8, but were not allowed to build the kind of aggressive innings that have been the hallmark of recent performances. Seamers Ryan May and Matt Churchill both went for 1 for 29 from their 9 overs. Harry Woolway top scored with an anchor role performance 39 from 76. In a game with no 50 partnerships, batters on both teams got in and got themselves out again. Ashburton relied on late over spin and both new recruit Jonathan Malan (9-0-35-3) and Chris Yeo (9-0-59-3) posed Cornwood questions. After the match, it became clear that a 41 run 8th wicket partnership in the late overs between Jason Hall and Finn Torley was priceless. The momentum that partnership generated was enough to carry the Twos to a finishing total of 221-9.
Ashburton just edged the first fifteen overs of their innings. They reached first drinks at 69-1 compared to Cornwood’s earlier 62-2. The pendulum swung decisively in the Twos favour with a run out in the 16th over. Daniel Coles worked the ball through the ring towards cow. While the batters ran two, Josh Goodliffe sprinted from Midwicket. Daniel Coles did not see the hard throw Goodliffe made to Harry Woolway at the bowler’s end and kept running for a third. With both batters at the same end, a simple throw to the keeper from Woolway got the run out. Lloyd White then ran himself out 3 overs later looking for a single from a ball that had been deflected to bowler Jason Hall. Woolway and Hall (9-0-31-3) made sure the quiet middle overs were whispered. The Twos had an edge, but not a decisive one, heading into the stretch. After 34 overs, Cornwood had been 141-5, but Ashburton were 145-6. A double wicket maiden from Jason Hall in the 35th over made the difference. Ashburton had the time to get close to the Twos, but they ran out of wickets on 186. The Twos stay top of C Division West by 1 point from Stoke Gabriel and 4 points from Ivybridge.
Captain Gemma Lancaster came to the party on a Sunday seaside outing to Paignton for the Women’s Ones, although the team were pipped at the finish. Gemma hit her first 50 of the season as Cornwood posted a total of 153-6 in their 35 overs. She finished on 62 from 88 balls with 9 fours through 27 overs against a disciplined Paignton attack who held a tight line through the innings. Opening bowlers Kat Frost (7-0-23-2) and Becky Harris stopped Paignton getting off to a flier. When Hannah Bale (7-0-35-2) and Gemma Lancaster were able to prise out settled batters in consecutive overs, the hosts still needed 78 from 15 overs and the total looked defendable. A powerful 40* from Katie Harman was enough for Paignton though as they reached their target with 8 balls to spare.
There is a new Netflix drama series out starring Arnold Schwartzenegger where the plot is that he works with a group of youngsters and shows them how to be a CIA agent/action hero. In unrelated news, Duncan Cumberland continues his assault on F Division West as the Threes won by 96 runs away against Yelverton. Duncan hit 78 from 56 with 12 fours and a six as the team racked up an impressive total of 265 in their 40 overs. Tom West was also in the runs with 47 from 37 and 9 fours. Needing nearly 7 an over from the start of their innings, Yelverton played for batting points and got to 169/6 from their 40 overs. Mike Hodge was the leading bowler with 2 for 31 from his 8 overs. Harrison Hodge was also economical with the new ball with figures of 6-2-11-0. Earlier in the week, Harrison had an incredible night for the Under 15’s taking 4-2-6-5 against Plympton St. Maurice.
The Fours also won handsomely at Delamore Park with a 113 run victory against Plympton 3XI. Barry Fitzpatrick (61) and Phil Gibson (64) took the game away from the visitors with 120 for the first wicket. A late 33* from 24 for Nick Tracey secured full batting points on 238/7. There was a family feel to the Fours this week, with Dave (5-1-9-2) and Nick Tracey (4-1-24-2) bowling in tandem. Dave also took four catches including a grab from his own bowling that resembled a leaping salmon. The oldest player on the team, Neil Lambert, took a catch from a fierce drive around the off the youngest player Stan Baker’s (6.4-3-4-2) bowling. Marc Whaley also took 2 wickets as Plympton were bowled out for 125. Back-to-back wins lift the Fours to seventh in G Division West.
Next week, the Ones look to challenge Bovey Tracey’s pace attack at Oak Park. The Twos travel to Kingsbridge. The Threes are at home to South Devon 2XI while the Fours travel to Plymouth for a derby match against Plymouth Civil Service & Roborough 2XI. Sunday sees the next round of the Women’s Super 8s at Oak Park.