Josh Bess scores Devon unbeaten double hundred at the Fortfield

Josh Bess batting for Sidmouth at home to Torquay. Ref shsp 23-17TI 3915. Picture: Terry Ife

Josh Bess batting for Sidmouth at home to Torquay. Ref shsp 23-17TI 3915. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Devon cricket captain Josh Bess said it still hasn’t sunk in that he has inked himself into the county record books by stroking a double hundred against Dorset, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

Bess, playing on his home ground at Sidmouth, made 203 not out for Devon in the first innings of the three-day Unicorns Championship game.

Devon have been playing Minor Counties and now Unicorns Championship cricket since 1901.

Bess is only the ninth player to make a double hundred.

Devon went on to win the game by 272 runs. Having a first innings lead of 240 gave them a grip on the game they never lost.

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Bess took five wickets in Dorset’s second innings to speed Devon to victory, earning another place in the record books.

Zak Bess, one of Josh’s brothers, scored a hundred (166) and took five wickets (5-35) on the same day when Devon defeated Cornwall at Sidmouth in 2016. None of the previous double centurions went on to take five wickets in the game.

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Josh Bess, whose previous best for Devon was 115 against Berkshire in 2014, said he his special game was even more special because it was on home territory.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet but obviously I am very pleased, and proud of it, and it was brilliant to do it at Sidmouth,” said Bess.

Devon were 59 for three when Bess went in on the first morning and at that point batting was tricky.

“It was difficult early as the ball was swinging and challenging the outside edge a lot,” said Bess.

“Fortunately, Alex Barrow and I managed to get through that. Having someone as good as him at the other end makes it a lot easier.

“The strike was being rotated regularly and the board kept ticking, which eased the pressure and kept us moving forwards.”

Bess and Barrow put on 220 for the fourth wicket, which put Devon in the driving seat for the rest of the game.

Bess said his only concern for most of the innings was making as many runs as possible for the team. Double hundreds were the last thing on his mind until he was past 150.

He added: Once I passed 100 I realised there was plenty of time to get a big one, but wasn’t sure how many

“A 150 I thought if I could stay there I would be close, but I may have to get on with it.

“Fortunately I managed to find a few boundaries to get me there without having to play differently.”

For the record Bess went from 0-50 in 85 balls, reached 100 after facing another 60 balls, took 47 more deliveries getting to 150 and received a grand total of 232 by the time he finished. His innings contained 19 fours and seven sixes.

Keith Donohue, Devon’s team chief, said Bess impressed him by the way he kept calm and collected while batting.

“The thing I liked about Josh’s double hundred was the way he kept his rhythm and stayed in the zone after getting to the first hundred.

“He went on and didn’t swish it away for a hundred a few more.

Devon 426-5 (J J Bess 203no, A W R Barrow 101) & 218-5 (A W R Barrow 66, J J Bess 70, G B Allen 31; J K H Naik 3-73), Dorset 186 (J K H Naik 32, L A Webb 30; B G F Green 4-34, D J Goodey 2-43, J A Stephens 2-20) & 186 (J K H Naik 43, E J Ellis 37; J J Bess 5-33, J A Stephens 3-47). Devon (24pts) bt Dorset (3) by 272 runs.

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