Sidmouth striving for triple honour

FOR the second successive year, Sidmouth Cricket Club are striving to perform a triple of both 1st and 2nd XI premier division titles and Devon Senior Cup.

FOR the second successive year, Sidmouth Cricket Club are striving to perform a triple of both 1st and 2nd XI premier division titles and Devon Senior Cup. The feat has been performed only once previously - by Barton in 1987.

The Fort Field side have had the Francis Clark Devon League titles sewn up for two weeks now, but the cup hurdle, which they fell at last season, remains to be cleared on Sunday at Sandford where Plymouth are the opponents in a 1pm start.

Sidmouth start favourites against a side whose first priority will be to avoid relegation in their home match tomorrow against Exeter. But they were similarly tipped last year and misfired badly against Sandford.

Already this season, Sidmouth have slipped up in a shorter duration game when they fell victim to B Division Alphington in the McKinley White Exeter Twenty20 competition final. The Tony Pryce Sports Devon Senior Cup, however, is over 40 overs and provides less of chance for the unexpected to happen.

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Although Sidmouth are already crowned champions, they still have the self-imposed target of beating the record 289 points and remaining unbeaten for a Premier Division title.

Exeter, setters of this record in their unbeaten season of 2000, did their best to protect it by restricting Sidmouth to a 14-point haul from their meeting at the County Ground on Saturday.

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Facing a total of 239-6, they crawled to 135-6, denying the visitors victory, but also failing to score sufficient runs to secure the two points awarded for a losing draw.

These curious tactics led to the normally aggressive Alan Searle spending 135 balls making 55 not out at opener.

He lost Glen Lammonby, who gloved a lifter from Hancock to wicketkeeper Marc Jenkins with the total on 25, and the score laboured to 94-2 after 40 overs. To get points from the draw Exeter needed a score in the region of 160 but, despite having wickets in hand, they showed no inclination to accelerate.

Hancock was the bowler most to benefit from this wary approach, sending down 14 overs for 17 runs and two wickets.

Youngster Alex Brown, after a cautious start, hit 16, including a six off Scott Barlow, in a six-ball flurry. Barlow got the ultimate revenge and sparked a tumble of wickets in the last five overs, finishing with 3-38.

Sidmouth's innings had the impetus of a 144 opening stand between Josh Bess and Anthony Griffiths, with the former making 92 in 109 balls. This took him to the top of the division's scoring charts with Neil Hancock, who made 27, in pursuit. Both have a splendid chance of passing the 600 milestone for the season.

Griffiths, now out of a lean spell, hit a confident 66 to give his aggregate a boost

A brief rain interruption knocked one over off the usual complement of 50, but Nick Gingell hit a breezy 27, including two consecutive sixes off Adam Gribble, to propel Sidmouth past the 200 threshold for maximum batting points and on to 239-5.

Gribble is usually one of the division's most economical bowlers but, on this occasion, his 14 overs cost 76 runs.

Now on 273 points, Sidmouth face Bradninch at home tomorrow in the final match of the league programme.

Bradninch, who have strung a couple of wins together to rid themselves of relegation worries, sit comfortably in fourth place affording them the chance to play with a freedom that seemed alien to Exeter.

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