Fitzhenry claims ‘fivefer’ before the Paget brothers bat Sidbury to yet another success
- Credit: Archant
A Chris Fitzhenry bowling masterclass inspired Sidbury to an eight wicket home victory over Topsham St James on Saturday, leaving the club just six points away from lifting the Tolchards Devon Cricket League, Division H East title, with a full three games still to play, writes Stephen Howe.
After winning the toss and opting to bat, the visitors - third in the table before the toss - took the game to an initially sluggish Sidbury.
Opening bowler Barney 'The Barn Owl' Stone soon tightened things up with figures of 1-16 from eight overs and, by the 15th over, Sidbury's fielding operation was as parsimonious as a church mouse in a recession.
Senior bowlers Paget and Reed continued the squeeze, slowing the Topsham run rate to a trickle, but wickets were hard to come by, with a series of potential catches bouncing to safety off fielders' fingertips and, once, a bicep!
Topsham were marshalled by opening batsman Ferraro, whose patient and composed 38 included two dropped catches off Reed, the second by the bowler himself, the aftermath of which found Sidbury's talisman lying prone, inhaling dust, pinned to the Millfield turf by the heaviest and most painful of ironies.
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Come the 28th over Topsham were well-placed at 100-2 and the tide was turning for the estuary dwellers.
Step forward, then, Sidbury CC club stalwart and the eventual 'Hare and Hounds Man of the Match' award winner, Chris Fitzhenry.
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Earlier in the innings Sidbury's gully fieldsman had loudly and inexplicably singled out Fitzhenry for having 'kind eyes', but there was nothing compassionate about a spell of relentless line, length and guile that accounted for the entirety of Topsham's middle-order in four unforgettable overs that saw him take five wickets for just 12 runs.
At the other end the younger Fitzhenry softened up his father's victims whilst claiming one for himself and topping off a fine performance in the field by keeping his nerve under a steepling high ball at square leg.
Set 140 to win, Ben Pollard tried to wrap things up within ten overs, scoring a six and a four in his first four balls, before he and partner Grove succumbed to tight bowling by Knightely and Telford, the latter aided by a fine wicket-keeper's catch.
These dismissals brought the Paget brothers to the crease for the latest instalment in a series of shared East Devon sporting exploits stretching back decades!
The game was in the balance, and Topsham applied pressure through economical spells by Dhayan and Ross. Both brothers were dropped in single figures, and both regularly beaten off the pitch.
To the conventional: 'Yes, wait and no' they added the quizzical shrugs and loud shouts of 'get back' and 'no'.
However, an Alex Paget straight drive calmed the Millfield crowd, and two classy half centuries later - Olly winning that particular race - another family unit had grasped Sidbury the initiative, and the game was won.
Tomorrow (Saturday) Sidbury entertain the same Topsham opposition.