Second team pull up to challenging position

Cooke crucial for 1st XI

POINTS were shared in the clash of Sidmouth and North Devon, the top two teams in the Francis Clark Devon Cricket League Premier Division but, with the chasing pack losing, the downhill stretch of the campaign looks like being contested by these two teams.

Leaders Sidmouth can confirm this observation with victory against third-placed Plymouth who visit the Fort Field tomorrow, 29 points off the pace.

They will be looking for a tighter bowling display than the one that allowed North Devon to make 266 on their home pitch. The runs flowed, but so did the wickets and, despite their hefty total, North Devon failed to last their full 50-over entitlement.

It meant Sidmouth, who had reined in the runs after North Devon had raced away and threatened 300 plus, had a bonus over for a run chase.

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A pursuit did not develop after Josh Bess was dismissed in the fifth over and periods of retrenchment after wickets fell prompted the visitors to adjust their sights to making 200 for maximum batting points in a drawn game.

That was achieved as Adam Dibble struck 20 off 12 balls, before becoming the seventh wicket to fall on the last ball as he tried to strike a third six.

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The cement for Sidmouth’s innings came from Nick Gingell with 65, although his copybook was blotted with the run-out of Hilton Cartwright.

Sixteen-year-old spinner Mark Curtis, who is under Somerset’s wing, proved the main threat to Sidmouth and he finished with 3-73 in 14 overs.

North Devon’s unbridled celebrations indicated they knew a key wicket had been taken when Craig Overton caught Neil Hancock on the boundary off the bowling of Rob Gear. Hancock was fourth man out for 32 at 118 after 33 overs and an extended stay at the crease by him could well have resulted in a close finish.

Sam Richardson made 25 and Jackson Davey an unbeaten 30, though not without some alarms, as the visitors bagged 12 points from the draw to North Devon’s 14.

Davey, in his first team debut, had made a significant contribution in the field, taking a high slip catch off Bess to put North Devon at 66-2 after they had shot off at five an over. Another catch and some agile run-saving at mid wicket fully justified his selection.

Twenty-three were on the board after the second over, which saw Bess spray six wides, see a catch flash between first and second slip for four and a short ball get pulled to the boundary.

After that he bowled creditably up the slope into a strong wind to finish with 1-36 off nine overs.

Hancock was unable to find any zip in the pitch and, when he dropped short, Dan Bowser accepted the challenge with relish to lose a couple of balls in an adjacent field. He finished with 2-60 after bowling the last man and ending Mark Nobes’s innings on 55 when he mishit a lofted drive to Anthony Griffiths.

Will Murray and Matt Cooke both benefited when full tosses were hit to fielders, the former taking 2-76 and Cooke taking his second four-wicket haul in consecutive weeks for 57 runs. His spell was crucial in restricting North Devon’s run charge.

Murray’s arrival in the attack is usually treated with respect by batsmen, but North Devon opener Gear launched into him on the way to the day’s top score of 69. Murray got the ultimate revenge, however, having him caught behind.

?HAVING had their chances of retaining the Francis Clark Devon Clark Devon League 2nd XI championship written off three weeks ago, Sidmouth now find themselves very much back in the mix, two points away from leaders Bovey Tracey.

Sidmouth’s second consecutive win, set against Bovey’s second defeat on the trot, has made it anyone’s race with tomorrow’s fourth-placed opponents, Plymouth, also in the running.

Although they took a healthy 19 points from their match against North Devon, the Fort Field outfit will be looking for a much more convincing display at Plymouth tomorrow.

A good pitch and fast outfield suggested a big scoring game but, after being inserted, Sidmouth were all out for 178 in the last of their 50 overs.

All the runs came from the top half of the order, but no-one managed a half century, Ollie Pyne making the top score of 35.

He injected some pace into a slow innings which saw just 66 on the board at the half way point. Matt Hewer and Simon Sobczak had looked secure against a workmanlike, though hardly devastating, attack, but runs were hard to come by for them.

Hewer was out for 27 just before the drinks break, Jamie Wardrop started to up the pace with 16 and, when Sobczak was lbw for 33 off 110 balls, Saj Patidar hit 26 at more than a run a ball.

Pyne’s 35, including two sixes in consecutive balls, came off 27 balls but he ran himself out.

A clatter of wickets at the end of the innings saw North Devon claim maximum bowling points and Sidmouth were grateful for the 32-run contribution in the extras column, batsmen six to 11 making only nine runs between them.

North Devon’s early batsmen also found runs hard to come by as Fionn Wardrop bowled 15 overs on the reel for 32. But at 100-3 with 20 overs remaining, they seemed well-placed for a routine victory.

Wardrop claimed a deserved wicket in his final over and gave way to Miles Dalton whose wrist spin turned the game, Rob Ayres, who had made 40 at opener, becoming his second victim.

Off-spinner Charlie Miles had already cast a spell over the batsmen and was to finish with a creditable 2-28 in 13 overs.

Dalton took 4-14 in eight overs as the North Devon tail folded in similar fashion to the home side’s and the innings ended at 129.

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