Words: Simon Travers
Pictures: Ivor Thomas
The Devon Cricket League reached halfway this weekend with Cornwood in the thick of the conversation as both Ones and Twos both played top of the table clashes. The Ones travelled to Crediton looking for the win over Sandford while the Twos hosted to Stoke Gabriel. Captain Elliott Staddon spoke for both Cornwood teams when he told Devon Cricket pre-match that ‘This result won’t determine the winner of the league!’ Of course, wins would be very useful.
Sandford, league runners up for the past 2 seasons, won the toss and elected to field. They love to chase more than a springer spaniel with each of their six wins this year coming when they bat second. Jay Bista was out within 2 overs as Sandford captain Jackson Thompson took the catch from Jake Griffiths. Thompson then was able to remove Max Finzel LBW with the score on 45 before Ben Beaumont was caught. With the One’s top 3 out in 12 overs, the team needed partnerships to rebuild. Wickets kept falling at 20 to 30 run intervals and when Ryan Rickard’s vigilant 36 from 62 balls ended, the team were 132-6 with 18 overs left.
Further problems beset the Firsts when keeper George Thompson was forced to retire hurt with a knee injury. That left the lower order to negotiate the last 10 overs with the score on 166-6. Elliott Staddon fought hard to generate a counter-punch but was bowled by James Theedom one short of a half century. Theedom was the pick of the Sandford bowlers with 8.4-0-37-3 while Jake Griffiths (7-0-29-2) and Harrison Jones (6-2-19-2) provided quality support.
Cornwood’s 196 represented the type of target Sandford have been chasing with ease. Matthew Skeemer (8-0-44-2) was able to deliver two early wickets to put the hosts on 37-2. However, this introduced Sandford’s overseas pro Dikshanshu Negi to the crease. The Ones would have a full scouting report on Negi as Jay Bista played first class cricket with him in 2022. Negi is an impact player though and arguably one of the three most prized wickets in the division this season. He showed explosive power with three sixes and a four from the 25th over. Ably assisted by opener Daniel Ward (72 from 85) for a third wicket partnership of 132, Negi broke Cornwood’s hopes of tightening the match. He finished on 85 from 63 with 7 fours and 5 sixes as Sandford won by 7 wickets with 19.3 overs spare.
Sandford are a nut left uncracked by the Ones. They have only won one of the last seven encounters and five of Sandford’s last six wins have been with successful chases. However, the Ones remain in second place in the division; only 9 points behind and still very much in control of their destiny. In other games, Bradninch & Kentisbeare jumped into third after beating Heathcoat by 52 runs. North Devon kept Plympton in the drop zone by skittling them for 66 when chasing 101.
At Oak Park, there were a few technical difficulties with updating the scoreboard but you did not need a digital display to see how strong Stoke Gabriel are this season. They might have wondered early on if their decision to bat first had been correct. Two wickets in the first two overs from Andy Bees and Harry Woolway gave the Twos an early advantage. Cornwood’s bowlers pressed and were perhaps denied the luck needed for further breakthroughs but Michael Meech and South African Justin Pringle dug deep to reach 59-2 at first drinks. Life did not get easier for the Stoke batters as Matt Puttock found extra bounce from the pitch and Jason Hall twirled to figures of 9-0-42-2. The first thirty overs of the game were a true arm wrestle. Both teams drew on their reserves and experience with the score balanced on 126-4. From there, Jack Tolley grasped the initiative for the visitors. He reached 50 in the 37th over from only 38 balls, and then hit the afterburners to reach his century 24 balls later. With four sixes in the final five overs, Tolley finished on 112* from 68 with 15 fours and 4 sixes in a total of 256-4.
The Twos’ innings began in the same way to Stoke’s with two early wickets. The batting unit could not replicate Stoke’s resolve though and wickets kept falling. Jack Tolley took 3 sharp chances in the cordon to assist Jake Robinson (7-0-33-5) and Isaac Withington. (8-2-22-2) The match was gone as a contest as the Twos reached 57-7 at first drinks. The lower order added 80 as Finn Torley top scored with 34. It was Jack Tolley again (3-0-28-2) who cleared the tail for the 119 run victory. That loss puts the Twos behind Stoke Gabriel and Ivybridge. Jake Robinson, speaking to Devon Cricket, captured the fascinating complexity of C Division cricket by saying ‘the challenge is really the tiny margin for error there is in our division.’ Halfway through the season, there’s still a long way to go.
The Threes climbed to second in the F Division West table after leaving the Babbacombe downs with a close fought win. Ewan Grewal hit 4 fours and 3 sixes on the way to 41 but Babbacombe took their catches. It took a 9th wicket partnership of 62 between Chris Chaloner (33) and Josh Whiting to bring the Threes score to 159. Babbacombe’s strength is their bowling rather than batting. This match was the fifth time this season that they have been bowled out for under 150. Mike Hodge was the match-winner with honours board worthy figures of 8-0-17-5 while Josh Wood also proved economical and deadly with figures of 8-0-19-3. Babbacombe could only make 130 and the Threes had done enough to take their fifth win in six games.
The Fours were also on the winning end of a tight one against Bovey Tracey 4XI at Delamore Park. The team can be really satisified with a strong all-round bowling performance after putting the visitors into bat. Wickets were shared equally between the youth and veteran wings of the attack. Sam Cumberland (8-0-28-2) and Stanley Baker (8-0-32-3) can be really satisfied with their afternoon’s work as Bovey Tracey were all out for 146. Early wickets made the chase a nervier affair than the Fours had hoped. Phil Gibson provided the muscle with his second fifty of the season to haul the target in. Phil scored 52 in 88 balls with 6 fours as the Fours got home with three wickets and three overs spare. That win puts the Fours comfortably mid table with as many wins as they recorded all of last season.
Sunday saw both women’s softball and Under 13s Girls squads were in action. The softball team took the long road up the A386 to Hatherleigh for a 3 game set, including matches against Holsworthy and Braunton. The ladies won all three matches to establish a lead at the top of their division. A particular highlight of the day was the 72 run victory against home team Hatherleigh. Captain Luci Atkins scored an eye boggling 30 from 10 balls while Helena Costiff made 23 from 9. The team did no favours for their opponents by recording a team-wide red inker with no wickets lost. Bella Martin was top of the bowlers with 3-0-17-2 as only 2 Hatherleigh player made double figures.
Back at Oak Park, the Under 13s Girls also claimed three wins against South Devon, Ipplepen and Teignmouth & Shaldon. The best result of the afternoon was a first ever win against Teignmouth & Shaldon. Lily Whaley and Milly Julian set up the win with powerful boundary hitting but everyone contributed. With Teignmouth having won their first two games as well, this match felt like a final. Teignmouth attacked with their best bowlers at the death but solid defence gave the Under 13s Girls the victory.
Earlier in the week, the Under 13s Boys made it seven league wins from seven as they beat a good Tavistock by 113 runs to stay top of their division. The Under 13s Boys are pack hunters like velociraptors. Tavistock was the third league match this season where 3 or more players made a retirement 30* in the same innings. There is a wealth of talent and not enough space to shout-out everyone contributing in this team. However, special mention must be made this week to Seb Clewer with figures of 2-1-8-5 including a hat-trick. Seb is by nature a rapid paced threat who can move the ball. However, he showed flexibility against Tavistock by utilising spin for his hattrick against the lower order.
If you haven’t been able to make it down to Oak Park for a while, next weekend is a fantastic opportunity with the club’s midsummer bash. The Ones have a local derby against Plympton while the Threes face Ashburton 2s over on Delamore. The barbeque will be firing and Audioshift will be providing classic alt-rock hits from 8:45pm. Meanwhile, the Twos will be on the road at Dartington and Totnes and the Fours will be rocking the satnav to get to Petrockstowe to play Hatherleigh 3rds. On Sunday, both the Women’s Ones and softball teams are at home to Hatherleigh and Ivybridge respectively.