Great Gater powers Sidmouth to Paington win and secodn place in Premier Division

STUNNING hitting by Will Gater turned a par Sidmouth total into a match-winning one at Paignton to put the reigning Devon League champions into second spot in the table, writes Fionn Wardropp

But there’s a 25-point gap between them and leaders North Devon, which will take some closing. Inspirational match-turning performances, such as that turned in by Gater, will be needed as the season progresses - Sidmouth host Plymouth tomorrow.

At 160-7, with five overs of Sidmouth’s quota of 48 remaining, the outcome of Saturday’s fixture at Queen’s Park was very much in the balance.

When the innings closed, Sidmouth had 230 on the board after Gater and Will Murray had added 70 runs and all the momentum was with the visitors.

Gater smashed 59 runs from 29 balls, treating spectators to three of the biggest sixes they are likely to see.

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Murray played the support role, working the ball around, rotating the strike and hitting a couple of sweet boundaries of his own.

Earlier in the innings, Anthony Griffiths, with 42, and Josh Bess, with 25, compiled a sound opening partnership.

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After stroking 20 runs from the first two overs, Sidmouth’s progress was slow and, after 20 overs, the total stood at 58.

Griffiths sensed the need to accelerate and struck four sixes to push Sidmouth along. Neil Hancock, with 36, and Saj Patidar, 21, kept the run rate healthy, but when both departed in quick succession and were followed back to the pavilion by Matt Cooke and Jamie Wardrop, Paignton were gaining ground fast.

But that eighth wicket partnership of 70 ensured Sidmouth held sway at tea.

Opening, Bess and Gater were a handful, but neither was flattered by their figures, with Bess taking one wicket and Gater unfortunate to finish with a blank.

Paignton’s progress was slow and the pressure created by the opening bowlers enabled Sidmouth to maintain attacking fields.

Murray was the first to benefit as he grabbed two of his three wickets in successive balls, aided by sharp catches behind the wicket by Ben Gledhill and Patidar.

Hancock also benefited, bowling well on his return from a hamstring pull, and finishing with 3-32.

Paignton dipped to 57 for 6 with 27 overs gone and the end looked to be approaching fast, until 15-year-old Ollie Higgs compiled an accomplished 29 to put the brake on the visitors.

Skipper Mike Pedley also batted well and the pair added 52 for the seventh wicket.

The introduction of spinners Matt Cooke and Miles Dalton brought a three-wicket dividend, but the last pair of Tom Field and Terry Farkins kept Sidmouth hanging around for another five overs.

There was some relief when Hancock returned to the attack and fooled Farkins with a slower ball and took the return catch.

Sidmouth’s scheduled Devon Cup second round tie at Alphington last Sunday was called off due to a waterlogged ground and will now be played on Sunday, July 3.

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