Words: Simon Travers
Photos: Ivor Thomas
The pre-match conversation surrounding Bovey Tracey’s visit to Oak Park feels like a sign of how times have changed in the last few seasons for the First team. Last year’s home win for the Ones was the first time since 2006 Cornwood had beaten Bovey Tracey in the league. At full strength, Bovey boast an experienced side with a pace attack that provides a point of difference to the rest of the division. However, captain Lewis Hammett’s pre-match comments were full of respect for Cornwood in their position as league leaders.
Bovey Tracey made the trip west after being bowled out by Sidmouth and Heathcoat for 82 and 94. Cornwood’s new ball attack set alarm bells ringing in the visitor’s changing room again by removing Bovey’s openers in the first 10 overs. Matthew Skeemer, James Richardson (before leaving the pitch injured), and Josh Coker all kept a stranglehold on the batting line up to place Bovey 47/3 after 20. The spinning B’s piled on more pressure as Jack Ormsby (6-0-27-2) and Lee Baker both took wickets to bring the total to 99/6.
Bovey countered with a 71 partnership for the seventh wicket between Seb Ansley (50) and Ashley Causey (42). Two wickets for Jay Bista (6-0-39-2) and a late caught and bowled for captain Elliott Staddon ensured there was no repeat of last week’s late innings runaway train and Bovey Tracey ended their 50 overs on a very gettable 200-9.
Cornwood’s first job in chasing was to get through Bovey’s new ball pairing of Seb Ansley and Alex Bevilaqua. Ansley has improved this season to be in the conversation as the best bowler in the county. Last season Ansley took an impressive 20 wickets at 22.50, but this season, he already has 17 wickets at 17.12. Bevilaqua is a 6 foot 9 paceman who played 2 Sheffield Shield matches for Western Australia before relocating to Tasmania.
Both bowlers struggled for line in the early overs and openers Max Finzel and Jay Bista were able to make prompt inroads. Bista was caught behind from Ashley Causey with the score on 63 after 12 overs. Ben Beaumont kept positive intent but again edged behind when Seb Ansley returned. The Ones were halfway to their target before the 20th over.
For the second week, it was Max Finzel who delivered the significant innings batting through with 69* from 99. Defending on the back foot but coming forward to produce his cover drive, Max formed the backbone of the innings. He allowed others to play more aggressively around him while warding off the risk of a bowling counter-attack. The Ones chased down the Bovey total with 5 wickets and 71 balls remaining for their sixth win in 8 of the season.
That win sets up the Ones for a massive fixture away at Sandford next week. Sandford are now in second, riding a six-game winning streak, after they beat Heathcoat in a one wicket nailbiter. The top and bottom of the Premier Division table has been impacted by the return of Heathcoat and North Devon’s overseas professionals to India for Duleep Trophy action.
It was a topsy-turvy week in C Division West. With three competitive teams vying for one promotion slot to B Division, it already feels like each game is must win. However, Stoke Gabriel, Ivybridge and Cornwood Seconds all received a reminder about the strength and depth of C Division losing to Yelverton, Brixham and Kingsbridge respectively.
Winning the toss and batting in 23⁰C heat, the Twos made a promising start to their innings with a 50 partnership between Ben Griffiths and Charles Finan. Finan went on to score 68 runs in 60 balls. His innings reflected something of the mood of the afternoon as it contained 15 fours. With no cloud cover and only the gentlest of southern breezes, it was not an afternoon for running. Pace off was the option that worked for Kingsbridge in containing and then controlling Cornwood’s progress. Former Cornwood player Jack Brown took 2-40, Bhanu De Silva had 2-44 and medium pacer James Westlake took 3-35. Two wickets in two overs after second drinks put the Twos on 136-6. Matt Puttock was able to launch a counter-strike 50* from 45 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes to bring the total to 224-9.
Local knowledge of the Kingsbridge pitch described it as ‘unforgiving if the batters get in’. The Twos toiled in the opening overs without reward as Kingsbridge reached first drinks at 77-0. Openers James Westlake (40) and James Fletcher (64 in 79) made significant contributions. Josh Goodliffe was able to win 3 LBW appeals on his way to figures of 9-0-56-3. Kingsbridge sensing victory got the bit between their teeth, showing intent with their running between the wickets as well as matching the Twos in the boundary count. The Twos seemed a bowler light this week, which sometimes happens over the course of a season. On the day, Kingsbridge played the conditions better and deserved their 5 wicket win.
Back at Delamore Park, the Threes hosted South Devon’s Second XI. F Division West is shaping up to be a very close division this year. Although South Devon came into this match in 2nd place compared to Cornwood’s 5th, only 5 points separated the teams. 7 teams out of 10 started the weekend with a 50% winning record or better. Both last year’s matches were convincing wins for the visitors, and they may have been expecting more after early progress from Ewan Horner and Sam West was halted and the Threes found themselves on 113-5 after 21 overs.
Evie Privett has already made an impact in the Women’s Ones since moving at the start of the season from Plympton. That move was completed as she made her debut for the Threes. Evie instantly contributed with 54* from 64 balls and 10 fours. She marshalled the second half of the innings to get full batting points for the team with a total of 225-9. It was the experienced hands of Josh Wood (7.2-4-15-4), Ewan Grewal (8-0-27-3) and Mike Hodge (8-0-27-2) who then caused two mini-collapses in the South Devon batting. That gave the Threes their fourth win from five by a margin of 73 runs.
On Sunday, the Women’s Ones hosted Exeter and Plympton in the final games of their Super 8’s division. The campaign hadn’t really sparked due to poor April weather and a pair of concessions. In their two games, the Women’s Ones comfortably beat a young Plympton team while being narrowly edged against Exeter. Becky Harris performed well in both games with two retirement 30s and three wickets across the day. Luci Atkins had an impressive all-round game against Exeter, hitting 27 runs to get the Women’s Ones close to their target and claiming 2-35 from her four overs. The win against Plympton currently puts the team second in their group, but with their games finished and the three other teams still to play 2 games, a third place finish looks likely.
Although the Fours comfortably lost at Plymouth Civil Service & Roborough by 6 wickets, there was one big positive to report. PCS&R have won 5 of their last 6 games due to a strong bowling unit. Under 15’s Charlie Farmer opened for the Fours and showed defensive determination and technique in scoring 62 with 10 fours to record his first adult 50 in only his tenth adult game. The Fours were bowled out for 144 as Mark Hopkins took 3-24 and Usman Tariq took 3-31. Charlie was also able to pick up 2 PCS&R wicket for figures of 6-1-19-2. Ryan Hewitt, back after a break from injury, took a creditable 7.3-0-23-2 as PCS&R reached their target with 10.3 overs spare.
Talking of Under 15’s hitting 50s, a quick word about Rocky Travers. At the end of June, Rocky is currently the club’s top run-scorer across all ages and formats. None of us had that on our Cornwood bingo card for 2023. Under 15s manager Adam Whiting made Rocky his opener at the start of the season and Rocky has rewarded that decision by hitting 5 half centuries, including 2 in the last week. Like a number of the Under 15s team, Rocky has grown up into his game this season. Opening has taken away pressure to play a shot a ball and allowed him to pick his moment to play his thumping back foot drives.
It's a big week next week as the season reaches the halfway point. The Ones travel to Sandford while the Twos host Stoke Gabriel in top of the table clashes. The Threes travel to Babbacombe and the Fours can put over a game of daylight between themselves and the drop zone if they beat Bovey Tracey 4ths at Delamore Park.