Sidmouth skipper wants a better start this time round

Will Murray batting for Sidmouth at home to Paington. Ref shsp 19 17TI 2417. Picture: Terry Ife

Will Murray batting for Sidmouth at home to Paington. Ref shsp 19 17TI 2417. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth skipper Luke Bess won’t accept a repeat of the 2017 season once the new campaign gets up and running, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

Sidmouth, champions in 2016, finished a distant third last season, 74 points behind top dogs Bovey Tracey.

Bess can accept another side being good enough to deny his a title they have won six times in the last decade. What Bess can’t accept it that Sidmouth, who were tipped by all and sundry to win it again last season, were so far off the pace.

“Everyone was saying it was ours to lose last season – and we lost three of our first four games,” said Bess.

“To improve on last season and give ourselves a chance of winning the league, we have to play a lot better. Fundamentally, we just didn’t bat well enough often enough. There were too many times when we were 130 for two or 140 for three then 170-180 all out.

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“Our hitters – Nick Gingell and Henry Gater – were going in way too soon and batting for 25 overs isn’t what they do best. By batting poorly we were putting too much pressure on our bowlers to defend totals.”

Aviwe Mgijima is Sidmouth’s overseas player this season. Mgijima, who will be 30 during the summer, has played First Class and List A cricket for Border, Western Province and currently Cape Cobras.

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Sidmouth hope Mgijima’s right-arm medium-fast bowling coupled with his batting will prevent them finishing among the also-rans again.

Elliot Rice, an opening bat, has arrived from Budleigh Salterton. Early season availability issues mean he will get a chance to showcase his skills. Benedict Sapiecha, who has arrived from Exeter, is another young batter pushing for a place. Sidmouth won’t see much of Devon pair Liam Lewis and Zac Bess in the first half of the season as both work in the independent school sector and have Saturday commitments. Batter Dec Lines has not returned yet from a winter down under, but is expected before the season gets too dated. Seamer Scott Barlow remains registered for Devon League action, but is back living in London and his first-claim club is West Hampstead.

Sidmouth are at home to new boys Sandford on Saturday.

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