Hancock hits cracking form

JIBES that Sidmouth are a one-man team were given new currency as all-rounder Neil Hancock racked up 211 runs and bagged six wickets last weekend.

JIBES that Sidmouth are a one-man team were given new currency as all-rounder Neil Hancock racked up 211 runs and bagged six wickets over a weekend that saw Sidmouth extend their lead at the top of the Francis Clark Devon Cricket League Premier Division and comfortably clear the first hurdle of the Tony Pryce Sports Devon Cup.In fact, the 105-run league triumph over Bradninch and 108-run win over cup holders Sandford contained telling contributions from other members of the side, but there was no keeping Hancock from the forefront of the action just to counter the impression of recent weeks that he was merely an integral part of a well-oiled machine.On Saturday, he joined opener Josh Bess at 27-2 and they put on 124 together before Bess was out for 74. Sam Richardson proved a willing ally for Hancock, putting on 62 with him to take Sidmouth past the 200 mark.When he fell lbw to Gary Chappell and was sixth man out, Hancock had 124 to his name at just over a run a ball and Sidmouth were two runs short of their finishing total of 255-7.Scott Barlow, having been out first ball, was in the wickets in his first over and Hancock began scything through the top order, taking three wickets with the score stuck on 34. Another one for Barlow made it 37-6 and, at this point, Joel Murphy offered some spirited resistance with 35 of the 40 runs that took the score up to 87 before Will Murray struck.The Bradninch tail took a liking to the spin of Miles Dalton and Chris Williams, but could not keep Murray at bay and he bagged 3-27.Inevitably, Hancock ended proceedings on his return to the attack to finish with 5-45.Twenty-four hours later Hancock found himself in a similar position to the previous day, having to start watchfully, after two batsmen had departed by the time the score reached 56 against Sandford.His partner for a short, but eventful, time was Nick Gingell who struck 30 in 17 balls until falling when a mis-hit shot landed in mid-on's hands.Richardson was again the perfect foil for Hancock and, for a while, outscored him. They reached their half centuries in consecutive balls and continued in a 137-run stand that took Sidmouth to 207-4.Hancock went on to 87 and Richardson 64. Sandford got in among the middle order, but a final flurry from Dalton and Murray saw the home side total a formidable 277-8.Sandford had a healthy run rate in reply until Hancock struck with the score on 41. Barlow followed up with a wicket next over and the rate dried up.There was spasmodic resistance from Sandford, with Tianne Mostert making a breezy 30, Shaun Hawkins 30 and Pete Steer 28. Regular wickets for Murray, with 3-16, ensured there would be no recovery and Dalton got a couple of victims to end the Sandford innings at 169.Tomorrow Exeter visit the Fort Field as the season reaches its halfway point with Sidmouth 33 points in front of nearest rivals Plympton.

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