Sargent so nearly majors, but he’s out for 99 as Sidmouth beat Exeter

Sidmouth 1sts played Torquay on Saturday. Matt Cooke keeps his eye on the ball. Ref shsp 26-16AW 155

Sidmouth 1sts played Torquay on Saturday. Matt Cooke keeps his eye on the ball. Ref shsp 26-16AW 1556. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth are starting to pull clear at the top of the Premier Division table after reaching the halfway stage with a 43-run win over Exeter on the County Ground, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

There were five Premier leaders in as many weeks before Sidmouth took over as the teams jostled for position.

Sidmouth are now 12 points clear of second-placed Exeter, helped by results elsewhere going their way.

Sidmouth got the start they didn’t want when opener Matt Cooke chopped into his own stumps third ball by Alfonso Thomas.

If Exeter thought they were in for more early wickets, they soon learned otherwise.

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Liam Lewis (30) and Luke Bess (16) moved the score to 45 for two then Harvey Sargent joined Bess for an assault on the Exeter bowling that added another 51. Liam Lewis - four wickets against Exeter

The big stand of the innings was one of 81 between Zak Bess and Sargent for the fourth wicket.

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Zak Bess contributed 49 to the stand before Nick Horne found his outside edge and keeper Alex Barrow took the catch.

Sargent kept going almost to the end and was on 99 when he drove Thomas to Jon Tipper at mid-on.

Sargent rotated the strike well and wasn’t afraid to take on the bowlers, hooking Thomas for six when the former Somerset pacer bounced him.

Thomas picked up two more wickets in his second spell to finish with three for 41. Tom Lammonby (2-25) also prospered as Sidmouth were bowled out for 255.

Exeter’s top order all had a go at the Sidmouth bowling as the city side reached 177 for three.

Rob Holman (32) and Blake Reed (52) opened up with 65, Reed and Barrow (27) put on 45 and chip-ins from Miles Lenygon (27) and Lammonby (21) got the target down to 80 off the last 15 overs with six wickets intact.

It all went wrong for Exeter during the powerplay when they lost wickets in hurry.

A promising 177 for three deteriorated to 194 for eight – that’s five wickets for 18 runs added – as Liam Lewis (4-53) and Matt Cooke (4-40) got into the middle and lower order.

Tom Pedel (16) delayed the inevitable for half a dozen overs before Lewis and Kyle Brockley tied up the loose ends.

Lewis, who varied his pace and flight well, looked like the match winner to everyone but himself!

“Matt Cooke seems to do something in every game he plays this season and after getting out cheaply made up for it with a great spell,” said Lewis.

“Exeter started off around five an over, got bogged down as the rate rose to six then seven, and when they tried to put their foot down they lost wickets.”

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