Let’s go to the end unbeaten!

ALTHOUGH his side can already be labelled the untouchables, having sealed the Francis Clark Devon League championship with two weeks of the season still to play, Sidmouth skipper Will Murray does not want his players to take their foot off the pedal yet.

ALTHOUGH his side can already be labelled the untouchables, having sealed the Francis Clark Devon League championship with two weeks of the season still to play, Sidmouth skipper Will Murray does not want his players to take their foot off the pedal yet.

He wants to finish the league programme unbeaten and achieve a points total that will stand as testimony to the dominance they have displayed this season.

The benchmark to better appears to be Exeter's campaign in 2000 when they remained unbeaten and finished the season with 289 points.

It is against the city side tomorrow at the County Ground that Sidmouth can take a step towards beating that total.

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Last Saturday, the Fort Field side reached 259 points with their maximum 20-point return from Instow where they beat North Devon by 106 runs.

It appeared the only thing likely to stop Sidmouth's march was a drizzly sea mist that engulfed the ground and prevented play for 20 minutes in North Devon's reply. To their credit, North Devon were prepared to endure miserable elements when play resumed.

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Having passed three batting bonus points on the way to 220-6, Sidmouth were already assured of retaining the championship.

Masterminding the visitors' innings was Anthony Griffiths who made his first league hundred of the season.

He lost opening partner Josh Bess early, but had a profitable 96-run stand with Chris Williams, who made 39, for the second wicket.

Both Griffiths and Williams fell stumped but by then Sidmouth were on their way to a respectable total.

With Matt Cooke smashing two sixes off the first two deliveries of the final over as he raced to 18 off six balls, the sort of total needed on the fast-scoring Instow ground was registered.

In fact, Sidmouth's bowlers ensured that score was well in surplus as they dismissed the home side for 114, Cooke finishing matters off in the 47th over with his second wicket at a cost of three runs.

Prior to Cooke's employment in the attack, the seamers had shared the wickets round after coming up against some initial resistance.

Dan Bowser and Rob Gear put on 42 for the first wicket until Scott Barlow had the latter caught by Cooke. Bowser spent 22 overs making 15 before an lbw decision in favour of Murray put him out of his misery.

The 50s proved hard to negotiate for North Devon who lost Bowser at 55 and three more wickets, one of them a run-out, at 58.

That put paid to any thoughts of them overhauling the Sidmouth total, remote though the possibility was, given the home side's slow progress.

That left the only question as to whether Sidmouth would come home with a win or a draw. Barlow and Neil Hancock worked their way through the middle and late order before Cooke was introduced and hastened the end.

Barlow's 3-29 saw him climb up to fifth in the league's leading wicket takers, Hancock's brace keeping him on top with 43 victims. Murray's pair keeps him in third place with 33.

Hancock made 27 in the Sidmouth innings and his place at the top of the league run-scoring charts was taken by Exeter's Marshall Hood, who made 79 in the game against Sandford.

The team bus drew up at the Fort Field at 10.30pm, giving enough time for joint celebrations with the 2nd XI who were also celebrating the retention of their title.


EMULATING the 1st XI every step of the way, Sidmouth 2nd XI clinched their premier division championship with another convincing display.

North Devon had the best of the draw when the sides met at Instow earlier in the season, and that result remains the only blot on a campaign copybook which has seen Sidmouth record 12 victories in the 13 games they have completed. The return match at the Fort Field saw Sidmouth register the latest of those wins by a comfortable seven-wicket margin.

Tomorrow, Exeter - considered rivals for the title over much of the season - are this week's visitors to the Fort Field. A couple of defeats saw the city side's challenge fade as Sidmouth's relentless march continued, so they will be playing only for pride tomorrow.

Typical of Sidmouth's dominance was the defeat of North Devon which saw Charlie Dibble climb up to second in the division wicket-taking table behind team-mate Mark Jasper after taking 5-17.

Seamer Jasper was wicketless, despite his usual accurate spell, while new ball partner Will Gater took 2-12, both victims falling to miscues of short deliveries. A needless run-out compounded North Devon's problems as they faltered to 38-3.

Warren Miller hit some crisp drives before being yorked by Miles Dalton for his only scalp.

Off-spinner Dibble entered the fray, being told by skipper Patidar that he envisaged just one over from him before bringing Gater back.

Zach Bess had previously taken over from Gater after his age-limited six-over spell, but Bess, restricted to five overs by his tender years, had not provided enough compulsory rest period before Gater was allowed to return to action.

For the uninitiated, youngsters subject to England and Wales Cricket Board restrictions on their bowling activities need to have been off for as long as they were on before they are allowed to return.

Dibble rendered all this academic by taking a wicket with his third delivery and at regular intervals thereafter in a 10-over spell, denying Gater the chance to get hold of the ball again.

At the other end, left arm spinner Graham Munday got into the action when Fionn Wardrop pouched a low catch at mid-off, though a flourish of 18 runs off his eighth and last over wrecked his figures, 1-31, and boosted the visitors' total.

Wardrop's catch was typical of a sound fielding performance, although Sidmouth floored or failed to make four catches. None was easy and Dalton had the misfortune for three of them to come his way. Getting a hand to one sizzling chance in the gully off Jasper saved a certain four.

Sprawling stops by Luke and Zach Bess also prevented boundaries and catch-of-the-day came when a lusty swipe by Mark Overton was pouched at silly mid-on by Patidar at the second attempt.

North Devon's innings ended with 118 on the board in the 44th over and its inadequacy was confirmed as Sidmouth used up 25 overs in a victory stroll completed at 5.30pm.

Luke Bess guided the side home with an unbeaten 44 at opener, but for a short while played second fiddle to younger brother Zach in a stand of 29 for the third wicket.

Bess junior hit 18, including two consecutive sixes, one causing consternation among spectators as it rebounded towards them from the Fort Flats.

Patidar signed off for the season with a commanding 20 not out to finish the game, leaving Jasper to take the helm while he holidays for the next two weeks.

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