Sidmouth CCs Alex Barrow rewrites the Devon CCC history books
PUBLISHED: 09:50 23 August 2019
Devon cricket captain Alex Barrow batted his way into the county record books by completing two centuries in the win over Oxfordshire on his home ground at Sidmouth, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.
Devon were in dire need of a win in the Unicorns Championship Western Division to get into the top half of the table before it is too late.
Any county finishing in the bottom five of the table of ten won't be in the new Western Division One proposed for next season. Division Two cricket is the alternative.
Thanks to an eight-wicket win over Oxfordshire with less than six overs to go on the third and final day, Devon have moved within two points of a top-five place.
There is one game to play - against Cornwall at Exeter - which the opposition also need to win if they are going to make the top five.
Former Somerset staffer Barrow, who struck 141 in Devon's first innings against Oxfordshire, was unbeaten on 103 when the winning runs were scored late on Tuesday afternoon.
Barrow is only the fifth Devon cricketer to score two hundreds in the same match which was first done in 2004 by Bob Dawson against Wales. Since then Neil Hancock (2006, Cornwall), Matt Thompson (2013, Oxfordshire at Sidmouth) and Tom Lammonby (2018, Wales) have achieved the same milestone.
The tons were totally different in character, which made them all the more memorable. Barrow's 141 was a testament to application and patience on a wicket that changed nature as the day wore on. Ton two looked more like a 50-over white-ball innings at times.
Said Barrow: "Of all the centuries I have scored the first one against Oxfordshire was the most satisfying for a number of reasons. Gareth Andrew bowled very well for Oxfordshire and I think I was on around 60 after 60 overs. Peter Trego batted positively with me and that freed things up for us to build a useful first-innings lead."
He continued: "It was great to score that hundred in front of my mum and dad (Guy and Anne), who seldom both get to see me play. So much of what I have achieved in cricket has been down to mum and dad's support and when I came off I had to hug them."
Devon bowled out Oxfordshire for 342 in their second innings, which left them 95 minutes batting time plus the mandatory 17 overs in the last hour to make 179 to win.
"Getting Oxfordshire out the second time took a lot of effort and the longer they batted the more you start to think how long are you going to have to chase?" said Barrow.
"Spending 130 overs in the field is hard - even if it is over two days - and that is when you appreciate the work your spinners put in.
"Toby Codd's four for 102 from 40 overs was a huge effort."
With Andrew bowling well again it was slow going at the start, but Barrow and youngster Jamie Baird saw him off then started to play some shots.
"Again the wicket behaved strangely, as it did on day one, and we had to deal with Gareth Andrew bowling another good spell, which we knew he would," said Barrow.
"After a slow start myself and Jamie Baird started to pick up the tempo and I was looking at board thinking if I bat through for 80-85 not out we should win this.
"Then I had a couple of big overs and realised I could get a hundred quite easily."
Barrow hit left-arm spinner Ollie Price for two sixes and a two in one over then took Joe Butcher for two fours and a six in the next.
Jamie Baird (52) was shuttling ones and two as the other end from Barrow and it looked like the two of them would win it without incident.
"It would have been nice for Jamie and I to do it together; unfortunately I ran him out when we only needed 20," said Barrow.
Peter Trego, Barrow's centurion companion in a first-innings partnership of 185, was at the other end when the captain tipped and ran the winning runs.
Oxfordshire 211 (J A Cater 65, H G K Smith 39, M R Warner 36; P G Trego 2-21, H M Whitlock 2-55, D J Goodey 2-48, M Pugh 2-34, T J R Codd 2-33) & 342 (H G K Smith 95no; J A Cater 61, R D R White 41; T J R Codd 4-102), Devon 375-4 (A W R Barrow 141, P D Trego 103, J E Burke 55no, Z G G Bess 37no) & 179-2 (A W R Barrow 103no; J W Baird 52). Devon (24pts) bt Oxfordshire (2) by 8 wkts.