Hopes of Sidmouth treble quashed

Bovey pick up momentum late on

SIDMOUTH Cricket Club’s dreams of an unprecedented treble of league, knock-out cup and Twenty20 titles came to an abrupt end at Bovey Tracey on Sunday when the home side chased down 244 to win.

Such an outcome in the cup match seemed unlikely when openers Josh Bess and Anthony Griffiths began compiling a 101 partnership with only nine home players on the field due to a selection oversight.

Eventually reinforcements arrived, but Sidmouth skipper Will Murray had to sanction the use of one of the latecomers who had not been on the team sheet handed to the umpires.

By then the visitors were establishing a firm foothold in the game as Bess reached 67 in 51 balls before not getting enough elevation on an off drive and being caught.

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Nick Gingell had three lives reaching four and then struck a four and six before his luck ran out.

While Griffiths played the anchor role on his way to 67 in 96 balls, Matt Cooke maintained the healthy run rate with 44 off 36.

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Sidmouth’s 243-7 total looked beyond Bovey after they lost two wickets to run-outs with the total at 10. One was the result of good work in the field by Luke Bess and the other down to fortune when a drive ricocheted off Will Gater’s boot on to the stumps at the non striker’s end to leave the backing up batsman stranded.

By now Pakistan test player Faisal Iqbal was at the crease and seeking to consolidate, but a third wicket fell at 40 with 12 overs bowled.

A 39-ball 44 from Ben Ayres signalled a recovery but Matt Cooke removed him lbw and, next ball, had a confident shout against Chris Bradley turned down.

Bradley never looked back and by then Iqbal was mixing watchfulness with towering sixes as Murray suffered treatment he rarely receives in league games. Luke Bess, one of Murray’s scheduled bowlers, split a finger saving runs and had to leave the proceedings for hospital to add to his problems.

Greg Chaplin substituted and Gingell took on the bowling mantle, inducing an edge by Iqbal that John Goodwin could not grasp behind the wicket. Gingell was to get his man when a full toss was hit into the heavens and Jackson Davey somehow got to the ball before it hit the ground for the day’s best piece of fielding.

But the Bovey rollercoaster was on a downward slope and not even a third run-out could derail it. Bradley moved on to 77 from 73 balls as he hit the winning boundary off the first ball of the final over.

? Tonight, Friday, Sidmouth bid to reach the county finals of the Twenty20 competition when they meet the Torbay champions, Brixham, away (6pm start).

? THE two combatants in the fight for the Francis Clark Devon League title, Sidmouth and North Devon, traded blow for blow at the weekend, both grossing 20 points from comprehensive victories.

As the competition enters its final month, Sidmouth remain six points ahead of North Devon as they head to relegation-threatened Exeter tomorrow.

The city side had a morale-boosting victory over Paignton last weekend and Sidmouth will not be under-estimating their lowly opposition, who now have a fuller squad to select from now the schools are on holiday.

Sidmouth, too, got a boost from returning student Will Gater last week and he produced one of the best deliveries of the season to bowl Tim Piper and put Fort Field visitors Bradninch at 9-2 after Josh Bess struck with the second ball of the day. Gater got late away swing to pitch a ball on leg stump and pluck the off peg out.

More successes for Bess had Bradninch at 13-3 and then 23-4. A wicket for Will Murray in his first over, followed by another for Bess, saw the visitors at a parlous 43, but Eliot Acton and Joe Webb stopped the rot with a stand of 61.

Chris Acton weighed in with an unbeaten 26 to get Bradninch to 143 all out in 47 overs, Bess finishing with 4-36 and Murray 4-37.

An opening stand paced at four an over by Bess and Anthony Griffiths seemed to be sweeping Sidmouth to victory until a crazy call by the latter saw the demise of his partner at 104.

Griffiths was bowled for 53 eight runs later but Nick Gingell and Matt Cooke saw matters to a conclusion after 33 overs.

Sidmouth were hoping that down the coast Budleigh Salterton might do them a favour by providing some stiff opposition to North Devon.

However the East Devon neighbours slipped back into relegation contention when mustering 142 all out in reply to North Devon’s 217. FORT Field deckchair fee collector Colin Wright recorded his best takings for a 2nd XI game when Exmouth were the visitors and no wonder with the entertainment provided.

Explosive hitting, fine bowling, stunning catches, a lightning stumping, incredible batting collapses and the tensest of finishes made this one of the most compelling games seen at the ground this season.

Sidmouth won the toss, inserted their visitors and had early joy when Julian Page was trapped lbw by Mark Jasper. Then Dale Mills, after offering a straightforward chance that was spurned, fell to a legside stumping by John Goodwin off Greg Chaplin.

This brought Richard Arnold to the crease and he quickly made a mess of Jasper and Chaplin’s figures with a volley of fours and sixes. Opener Roger Wensley joined the fray and runs were flowing at more than six an over.

Arnold had hit 37 off 17 balls when his first mishit sent the ball high over Charlie Miles at square leg who turned, ran back and held the catch.

Wensley continued to plunder the cover boundary and, at the halfway drinks break, Exmouth had 144-4 on the board from 25 overs.

After completing a half century, Wensley was particularly determined not to succumb to his old adversary, Graham Munday, when he was introduced to the attack but promptly planted a short ball into the hands of Miles at point, making it 149-4.

This precipitated a collapse of Roman empire proportions as Munday struck four more times, Will Sobczak eclipsing Miles’s first catch for one of the wickets. Miles’s off spin produced two wickets and Exmouth were all out in 38 overs for 174.

It should have been a routine chase, but some astute inswing bowling from Matt Tarry had Sidmouth 73-4.

However, opener Luke Bess was making light of the bowling and had moved serenely to 62 when, at 111, he attempted to hit a full toss from Jack Sargeant into the sea, but miscued, allowing Mills to complete a difficult over the shoulder catch.

Five runs later, Graham Munday struck a Sargeant short ball in the middle of the bat, only to see Mills take the stinging catch at short mid wicket.

Catch of the day was still to come, two runs later, when Chaplin struck a sweet shot behind square only to see a far-from-lithe Grant Northover dive full length to make a one-handed catch.

That made it 118-7, but Declan Lines joined Charlie Miles for a stand of 26 to revive Sidmouth hopes.

Miles moved on to 31 before falling lbw to Tarry on his return to the attack. It left Jasper and Goodwin with 13 to make.

Tarry had a couple of lbw appeals against Jasper turned down and came close to completing a caught and bowled before he bowled a full toss which Jasper carved away for the winning boundary.

Nineteen points for Sidmouth saw them edge a little further way from Bovey Tracey in the Francis Clark Devon League 2nd XI premier division. Bovey took 17 from their victory over Exeter.

?IRRESISTIBLE cricket by Sidmouth saw them blitz their way through the semi final and final of the McKinley White Exeter Twenty20 competition.

Sidmouth had won the Exeter tournament in its inaugural year, but lost a close final against Alphington in the competition 12 months previously.

The draw paired these two teams in the second semi-final at the County Ground on Sunday and a century from Anthony Griffiths, who had taken his side so close to victory 12 months ago, combined with a devastating fielding display, provided redemption.

The absence of Neil Hancock and Josh Bess, on county duty, and Will Murray, at a wedding, had provided fuel for speculation that Alphington, from the A Division of the Francis Clark Devon League, may again prevail over the premier team.

In the event, the absentees were not missed such was the intensity of Sidmouth’s players in the field – there were no dropped catches and no fumbles on the ground.

Some of the catches were truly outstanding, the trend started by Griffiths who, in the first over of Alphington’s reply to a mammoth 198, plucked a six-bound hit out of the air and then seemingly performed a foxtrot, tango and waltz to avoid stepping over the boundary rope. It would have been 10s all round had the Strictly Come Dancing judges been present.

Two balls earlier Luke Bess had held on to a firmly struck cut shot at point. A diving Nick Gingell grasped a fierce drive at short cover next over to make it 5-3 and effectively kill the contest.

Alphington subsided to 53 all out in 12 overs with Sidmouth’s bowlers enjoying the sort of figures that would do them proud in a league match – Will Gater took 2-7, Luke Bess 3-24, Miles Dalton 2-13 and Matt Cooke 2-5.

A direct hit run out from Jackson Davey topped things off.

In the field the A Division side had wilted under the pressure Griffiths and opening partner Hilton Cartwright put them under in an opening partnership of 95.

Griffiths had survived a dropped catch and a run-out chance on his way to 83 when the last over arrived. Three sixes and a four from him sent him sailing past three figures in 71 balls.

Comedy was provided when a vain run-out attempt saw a ball hurled past the stumps and head to the boundary, hotly pursued by a fielder. The ball went over the rope, followed by the fielder who, unable to stop his momentum, crashed through sponsors’ advertising boards and down a gully. He returned in some discomfort, mainly from hurt pride.

Dalton left proceedings after the semi-final in response to a call that his wife had been taken ill. Murray was contacted and told to speed his return from the wedding celebrations in Jersey and he arrived in time to play a part in the final by taking 2-10 against Exmouth, who had edged past Exeter in the other semi-final.

Exmouth skipper Richard Baggs briefly signalled that Sidmouth might be facing a sterner task by striking 26 as his side reached 40 after five overs. Richard Arnold, too, kept the candle burning brightly with 24 before falling to the sharpest of legside stumpings by Marc Jenkins off Gingell, who took 3-14. This snuffed out the innings and, with no other batsman able to prosper, Exmouth were dismissed for 76 in 15 overs, Cooke taking 2-8 and Gater 2-16.

Cartwright’s firmly-struck 41 not out ensured this total was inadequate and victory was reached with two wickets down in the 11th over.

Though Griffiths made only 17 in the final, his exploits in the semi-final were taken into consideration by the Man of the Match judges who decided the award should go to him.

Sidmouth must now face the winners of the Torbay Twenty/20 competition to decide who goes forward to the Devon finals day and then the regional stage of the competition, scheduled for Sunday, August 22, at Exmouth.

?ANOTHER double helping of competitive cricket at the weekend sees Sidmouth seeking to boost their chances of three Francis Clark Devon League titles on the trot and progress towards a place in the Tony Pryce Devon Senior Cup for the third consecutive year.

Objective one is to keep rivals North Devon at bay by grossing points against Bradninch at the Fort Field tomorrow. On Sunday, it is off to Bovey Tracey for a delayed quarter final cup tie with fingers crossed that play is possible to prevent a toss of a coin being used to decide who goes forward.

The race for the league title appears to be between Sidmouth and North Devon, who are six points behind, with the rest trailing distantly in their wake.

The Instow club, who have been edging closer by completing 20-point wins while Sidmouth have been dropping the odd point or two in their recent victories, are at Budleigh Salterton tomorrow. Sidmouth will be hoping their near neighbours can do them a favour.

A comfortable win for Sidmouth at Braunton last week kept them on top of the table, but they gained 19 points while North Devon took 20 by overwhelming Plympton.

Sidmouth had only 119 to chase after a clinical bowling and fielding display, but such a low target meant they could not afford to lose more than two wickets if they were to gain maximum points.

Two wickets were down by the time the reply had reached 27 and two more were to fall just after three figures were passed

Prominent in both bowling and fielding performances was Josh Bess, who took 3-26 in 15 overs and then struck 79 of the 103 runs made before he was out.

The star bowling performance, 5-28, came from Neil Hancock, likely to be absent from tomorrow’s league action playing for the Minor Counties representative side, The Unicorns, against Lancashire at Old Trafford. He announced his arrival in the attack with two wickets in his first over and one in his second.

Keeping a lid on the runs for the third successive week was Matt Cooke with 1-15 in 10 overs. Six of the runs he conceded came in one hit.

With Bess leading the way with 79 coming off 66 balls, Sidmouth wasted no time completing their win, reaching 120 in 23 overs.

Will Murray, absent from last week’s game while attending a friend’s wedding, returns to skipper the side tomorrow with the Bedford Hotel providing the matchball sponsorship.

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