Sidmouth 2nds’ Jasper inspires teammates

AS reigning Francis Clark Devon Cricket League 2nd XI premier division champions, Sidmouth were keen to put one over on the new champions-to-be, Plymouth, and salvage a bit of pride from what has been a decidedly average season, writes Fionn Wardrop.

That the team turned in their worst performance of the season and handed the title to Plymouth on a plate was a real disappointment. Winning the toss and inserting the opposition on a damp wicket put Sidmouth in pole position and, when opening bowlers Alastair Chilcott and Nick Mansfield had reduced the visitors to 12-3, a good afternoon seemed in store.

A series of dropped catches and misfields, coupled with a real lack of intensity in the field brought the visitors back into the game and their captain, Rob Button, made the most of his reprieves to amass 85.

Button’s stand of 105 for the sixth wicket with Tom Hughes, who made 62, was the defining session of the match, as the pair ran hard and Sidmouth’s fielding fell apart. By the time both players finally managed to run themselves out, the damage was done. Plymouth closed on 242-8 which looked a high total on a wicket offering some assistance to the bowlers.

So it proved. Sidmouth’s only durable batsman was Matt Hewer who made 31 at opener. Hewer had also been the only fielder to shine and well deserved his later nomination as most valuable Player of the Day. Beyond Hewer, wickets fell steadily with no-one getting to grips with the spin bowling of Button and James Nicholls, both of whom were extracting considerable turn.

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With the game gone and the score on 102-7 Charlie Miles, with 30, and Dan Powell, 19, came together to add 53, Sidmouth’s best stand of the day, and give the home team the chance of a draw. When both were dismissed before the end, Plymouth again looked probable winners, but Mansfield played out the final couple of overs comfortably to give Sidmouth a draw that they scarcely deserved.

With Sidmouth failing to reach the required total to earn two points for a losing draw, Plymouth took 15 points from the game and Sidmouth received seven. Tomorrow the team travels to Bovey Tracey and will be keen to restore some pride with an improved performance.

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Putting this game into perspective, Mark Jasper announced that this was his last game of cricket. People who have played with Mark over the past couple of years have been amazed and inspired by the way in which he has managed to bowl so well while dealing with the considerable side effects of his cancer treatment.

Playing on occasions with impaired vision, huge rashes, trembling hands and all manner of aches and pains, Mark has never given less than his all. Batsmen across the county will testify that he is the most skilful seam bowler around and batsmen from Sidmouth are glad that he played for us. The best second team bowler since Johnny Palmer retired, Mark has taught us all a great deal about cricket and considerably more about life.

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