Cool hand Luke keeps Sidmouth title challenge alive

Sidmouth in action against Exmouth in the Twenty20 final

Sidmouth in action against Exmouth in the Twenty20 final - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth snatched victory from what had seemed to be the jaws of defeat thanks to an outstanding batting display from one of the Bess contingent.

It was some controlled hitting from Luke Bess that saw the side to an important victory at North Devon.

There were just three balls of the match remaining when Bess struck the winning runs to finish unbeaten on 80 as Sidmouth passed the home total of 247-6 with three wickets to spare.

Bess appeared at the wicket, replacing brother Josh, out for 31, with the score on 100 and 32 of the 50 overs gone. A stand of 51 with Peter Randerson, who hit the shot of the day – a six over extra cover – in his run-a-ball 46 looked to be giving the reply some respectability.

Bess then added 40 with Nick Gingell (20) as the score eased to 200.

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Scott Barlow contributed six to a seventh wicket stand of 44 made in four overs which got the travelling faithful feeling victory could, be achieved at Instow. A key over in the latter stages was one bowled by the home sides overseas player Glen Querl that Bess despatched for 19.

Barlow perished, caught and bowled by Rob Gear, to bring Will Gater to the crease and with two overs to go Sidmouth were now favourites, requiring 13. Querl recovered from his previous mauling to deliver three dot balls at Gater and leave Sidmouth needing eight off the final over to be delivered by off spinner Gear.

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Showing complete composure, Bess got two of each of the first deliveries and then stroked the third through the covers for the winning four.

The visitors had not displayed the most clinical performance in the field after winning the toss and this allowed North Devon to make 20 more than they could have expected after being 56-3.

Josh Bess took the first two wickets, bowling briskly with the wind, while Barlow kept the lid on things at the other end with his 10 overs costing 31. Will Murray was similarly stingy in his quota and Charlie Miles continued adding to a healthy haul for the season with another three wickets, including those of Craig Overton and Tom Allin who have First Class County experience.

Sidmouth’s reply began ignominiously when the prolific Liam Lewis was dismissed lbw first ball when there was a strong suspicion he had made bat contact.

Some laboured early innings stands followed, but it was not until Luke Bess arrived to make his 80 off 56 balls that Sidmouth showed any potential for challenging the home total.

The result and its 18-point dividend keeps Sidmouth in touch with leaders Exmouth, who dispatched Exeter, and second placed Bovey Tracey, who lost to Torquay.

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