Sidmouth’s title hopes shot down

ANY hopes Sidmouth had of challenging for the Francis Clark Premier Division title ended as Exmouth summoned all their staying power qualities to win a game they had looked destined to lose, writes John Goodwin.

Tomorrow Sidmouth begin the second half of the season away to a resurgent North Devon team who have got over a stuttering start in defence of their title.

In fourth place with 105 points, they are a couple ahead of Sidmouth in fifth but both sides are well shy of leaders Bovey Tracey.

It is Exmouth who, after their 20-point haul from the Fort Field, now have the best chance of overhauling Bovey, five points ahead of them.

Cricket sages reckoned Sidmouth’s 205 all out against Exmouth was 20 runs light but the total had taken on inflated proportions as the visitors stumbled at 86-5 with the usually prolific David Lye and Richard Baggs dismissed cheaply.

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Andrew Buzza stood firm and, when West Indies under 19 player Akeal Hosein joined him, Sidmouth, hampered by a shower that made the ball greasy, began to surrender some of their dominance.

It seemed Buzza had undone some excellent work when he tried to clobber the first ball of Matt Cooke’s second spell and was bowled to make it 127-6.

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Hosein continued to select bad balls to hit and watchfully defend the good ones, receiving support from tail enders Lawrence Greenaway and Phil Anning to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Greenaway was bounced out by Josh Bess who caught the ball fended back to him and Anning was caught close to the boundary by Will Gater as he tried to accelerate the scoring rate.

He need not have worried because after his dismissal, which made it 185-8, Hosein took full command. Skipper Will Murray brought himself on to replace Cooke, whose off-spin had given Hosein some problems, and was promptly struck for six.

Sam Anderson had the job of bowling the final over and the difficult task of preventing Exmouth making three runs for victory. Hosein hoisted his third ball for six on to the Belmont putting green to settle the issue and finish 64 not out. Sidmouth’s best chances of removing him had been two fleeting run-out opportunities.

An extra 20 runs would have seen Sidmouth safe, but another inconsistent batting performance, cost them dear.

Matt Cooke, in a new role as opener, got early runs on the board with 45 and Bess showed signs of a return to batting form with 39. Anthony Griffiths, at the crease in the first over when Anderson was bowled, held things together with a patient 61, but Sidmouth again surrendered wickets during power plays and failed to maximize their total.

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