Thursday, August 14, 2014
SIDMOUTH have offered a helping hand to arch rivals Exmouth by loaning them groundsman Colin Whitehall for a day! writes Conrad Sutcliffe.
The local cricket programme was thrown into disarray last Sunday when the ECB NatWestT20 zonal play-offs at Sidmouth were called off.
Devon champions Exmouth were due to play Cornish winners St Just in the morning with Taunton St Andrews and Port Talbot Town playing their semi at lunchtime.
The zone final was due to be played later in the afternoon.
Not a ball was bowled at Sidmouth as the expected arrival of Big Bertha – the remnants of a tropical storm due to come up the Western Approaches – got ECB rattled.
ECB pressed Sidmouth to make an early decision on whether the ground would be fit for all three games on Sunday – and the club could not give any assurances in the light of the forecast.
So the entire competition was put off by a week in the hope of better weather. All four teams will convene at Sidmouth again this Sunday, which isn’t an ideal situation for Exmouth.
The change of dates means 1st XI captain and opener Richard Baggs can’t play due to a family commitment.
Seb Benton has to work – he is a brewery representative on duty at a music festival – and so does keeper-batter Sandy Allen.
Allen is the new groundsman at Exmouth, who are hosting Devon’s game against Berkshire on Sunday.
Exmouth are already resigned to losing opening bowler Trevor Anning, who will be playing for Devon not them, so being without Allen as well as Baggs and Benton is a real blow.
Enter Sidmouth with the offer of a groundsman to do Allen’s work on Sunday, freeing him to play for Exmouth.
“I can’t thank Sidmouth highly enough for helping us out,” said Baggs.
“We are big rivals on the pitch, and things can get a bit heated at times, but when they talk about ‘the Spirit of Cricket’ this is what they mean.
“It is going to be tough for us with so many players missing, but thanks to Sidmouth we won’t lose Sandy.
Weather permitting of course, Exmouth will play St Just at 10am on Sunday.
Exmouth are preparing for a bowl-out should the weather intervene again, which is test of nerve as much as bowling skill.
“Five overs each is the minimum and if we can’t do that I believe it goes to a bowl-out at a set of stumps,” said Baggs.
“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”