Sidmouth’s Tolchards League title hopes ended at Bovey Tracey

Josh Bess batting for Sidmouth at home to Torquay. Ref shsp 23-17TI 3922. Picture: Terry Ife

Josh Bess batting for Sidmouth at home to Torquay. Ref shsp 23-17TI 3922. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth look dead and buried in terms of the Tolchards Drinks Devon League title race after they lost to table-topping Bovey Tracey by 55 runs in a contest decided by the Duckworth-Lewis System, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

Bovey, who were asked to bat first, got to 141 for two after 32 overs in instalments. There was a break for rain, which meant DLS came into play to calculate Bovey’s projected score.

Sidmouth had to make 215 to win in 32 overs and were all out for 160 with 11 balls to go.

Although Sidmouth scored more runs in fewer overs than Bovey Tracey, DLS said they lost.

The Devon League Premier Division is using DLS in its entirety this season, rather than just to determine second-innings chase totals. Under last season’s rules, Sidmouth may well have won.

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The game between Bovey and Sidmouth was the only one to go the full distance in the Premier Division last Saturday. Bovey are now 35 points clear of second-placed Exmouth, 53 up on Bradninch and 60 points ahead of Sidmouth.

Sidmouth skipper Luke Bess has run-up the white flag on retaining the title won last year, saying: “It isn’t going to happen now.”

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Bovey skipper Peter Bradley isn’t talking about titles yet, but is pleased to have shown serious intent by completing the double over Sidmouth this season.

Bradley added: “Now we need to concentrate on improving as we move forward to Plymouth this week.”

Bradley opened up with 41 for Bovey and, after a rare failure by Josh Mailing, put on 56 with Andy Fairbairn (49) and 75 either side of the rain break with Matt Golding (36no).

“To get stuck in on a wet one and score at around five an over, for the loss of only two wickets, against their attack, was some achievement,” said Bovey skipper Bradley.

“We played sensibly and waited for the bad ball, which came more often than we expected from them as I believe they were trying too hard to get wickets on a wet one, rather than bowling to plans and building pressure.”

Bovey slowed up for the last couple of overs, protecting wickets in hand knowing they would count towards a greater total when the DLS target was calculated.

“We knew how important it was, not to lose wickets, as that would have drastically reduced our revised total,” said Bovey skipper Bradley.

“We were however very happy with the revised total.”

Sidmouth made a 52-run start between Josh Bess (31) and Liam Lewis (25), then lost wickets regularly as scoreboard pressure mounted to keep up with the rate.

Ryan Bougourd (3-13) got into the top order, spinner Toby Codd (2-36) took out Josh and dangerman Zak Bess and Matt Golding (2-23) and Chris Bradley (2-27) spun through the bottom half.

Scott Barlow, in at 116 for six, was ninth out for 24 on 151 as Sidmouth’s hopes faded.

Losing skipper Luke Bess said it would be easy to blame DLS for his side’s defeat. Apart from one minor gripe he had no issue with it.

“If want to encourage sides to score runs you don’t want a system that encourages them not to lose wickets,” said Bess.

“Bovey blocked out the last two overs to keep wickets intact as the system we use didn’t encourage them to score runs.

“If I was the Bovey captain I would have done the same, but that doesn’t make it right.

“Duckworth-Lewis didn’t beat us, bowling poorly for the first seven or eight overs didn’t help us at all.

“When we came off for the first rain break and we were working out the scenario if we had an early tea to preserve overs, we should have been a bit more street wise.

“If it happens again and we need to work it out we will do it in the dressing room, not where the opposition can listen in and make their plans accordingly.

“It did feel odd losing the way we did, but that is the system we use. It isn’t perfect, but until someone can show me a better way it is the one we have to use.”

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