Murray breaks 50-wicket barrier

Champions again!

A SIDMOUTH bowler broke the 50-wicket mark in Devon Premier League cricket for the first time when Will Murray took 3-11 in his side’s championship-sealing win at Plympton.

By the time the Sidmouth captain brought himself on to bowl, the title was already in the bag after Josh Bess and Neil Hancock had removed four of the home side’s early batsmen for the two bonus points needed to keep North Devon at a distance they could not close.

With North Devon able to gain only a losing draw against Bradninch, Sidmouth could have got away with a defeat in the final game of the season and still landed their third consecutive championship.

And at times when they replied to Plympton’s 107 all out, such an outcome seemed likely as the visitors laboured to 77-6, 33 of them to Josh Bess whose aggressive strokeplay was for once restrained in the face of tight spin bowling by Arwyn Jones and Keith Donohue.

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Jones sent down 19 overs for 27 runs and one wicket while Donohue was even tighter, taking 3-20 in the same length spell.

Andy Walters ended Bess’s 123-ball vigil but Matt Cooke and Jackson Davey saw Sidmouth home without further alarm with 21 and 14 respectively.

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Having bowled Plympton out in 35 overs, Sidmouth had the balance of the 50 entitlement, giving them 65 to reach victory. They used 57.

Bess took 4-33 in an unbroken 15-over spell and Hancock 2-29. A direct hit run-out by Hancock removed Duncan Hefford for 34 to leave the home side at 85-5. Bess and Murray worked in tandem to take four wickets in the next three overs.

Hancock returned to the attack when Bess had bowled his full quota and ended some stout 10th wicket resistance.

? The 18 points gained by Sidmouth saw them soar past the 291-point record total they set last season and go through the 300 barrier to 310.

? Murray became the first premier division bowler to reach 50 wickets for the season since Ali Imran took 63 for Plympton in 2006.

A strong contingent of Sidmouth supporters had joined the players on the team bus which returned jubilantly to the Fort Field at 10pm for the celebrations to continue in the pavilion.

? Backing from sponsors Holmesley care home, Everys solicitors, Otter Brewery and St John’s School has helped Sidmouth maintain the infrastructure to assist the next generation of players develop the skills which could help the club remain a force in Devon cricket and add to the three consecutive titles they have now registered.

The nervous three wicket victory which bottom-of-the-table Ottery St Mary 1st XI secured during their mid June visit to fellow strugglers Whitchurch proved to be the turning point of a season which has since been transformed to such an extent that the Salston Field outfit are now the league’s form side.

Last weekend’s return fixture saw the Otters crush their hapless opponents as they extended their remarkable unbeaten run to 10 matches.

Openers Steve Forbes and Sam Tennant gave Ottery a fine start after the former had been dropped behind the wicket by home skipper Martin Credicott.

Tucking into a feast of loose bowling and running particularly well between the wickets, the pair added 113 untroubled runs in 18 overs.

It took the introduction of spin, in the form of Josh Meadows, to make the breakthrough, the off spinner prompting Tennant (56 with 8 x 4s) to spoon a catch to Josh Vernon at square leg.

A further 58 runs were added by Forbes and a typically positive Matt Kirk before Meadows, who was deriving considerable turn, struck again as Darren Sambells pouched Kirk (23) at short fine leg. Rob Bradshaw-Smith soon became the offie’s third scalp, caught by Ashley Woodrow at mid-on before talented teenager Jack Pritchard joined Forbes and proceeded to play a terrific innings of 51 from just 34 balls, with 10 sumptuously timed boundaries.

Playing solidly, Forbes appeared to be on course for a maiden league century, but sadly, with his score on a career best 87 (10 x 4s), the former Exeter Civil Service skipper holed out Ben Powell at cover off teenage spinner Billy Barribal.

After Pritchard fell to a run out and Lewis Townsend (11) was caught by Vernon off Woodrow, stand-in skipper Rob Johns declared with three overs remaining to leave Whitchurch chasing an unlikely 270 to secure a desperately-needed victory.

High quality pace bowling from Johns, who produced a tremendous out-swinging yorker to castle Ewen Smith (1), and former Devon seamer Mark Woodman, soon plunged the West Devon side’s reply in to complete disarray at 5-4 after 10 overs.

Powell and Heatley affected a brave, but painfully slow, recovery to take the total to 77 before off spinner Townsend broke the stand in classic fashion, left-hander Powell (36) edging to Bradshaw-Smith at slip.

Meadows used his fine eye to good effect as he slogged his way to a rapid 45, including six fours and three enormous sixes before falling to a catch at mid-off by Sam Lynch off Bradshaw-Smith.

The same combination soon accounted for Heatley (36) and when Bradshaw-Smith (4-31) claimed two more victims, bowling both Billy Barribal and Vernon for ducks, Whitchurch were beaten.

The deserving Woodman claimed the final wicket, Norman Barribal (6) falling to a catch by Forbes at mid-on, as the Otters cruised to a comfortable win.

Francis Clark Devon League D Division: Ottery SM 269-6 (S Forbes 87, S Tennant 56, J Pritchard 51, M Kirk 23, J Meadows 3-62) Whitchurch 156 (J Meadows 45, J Heatley 36, B Powell 36, R Bradshaw-Smith 4-31, R Johns 2-4, M Woodman 2-14). Ottery (20pts) bt Whitchurch (6pts) by 113 runs.

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