This game likely to decide the title

ANOTHER mass emigration from Sidmouth along the coast to Budleigh Salterton is expected tomorrow for the third and final instalment of a cricket saga that has hotted up the coolest of summers.

ANOTHER mass emigration from Sidmouth along the coast to Budleigh Salterton is expected tomorrow for the third and final instalment of a cricket saga that has hotted up the coolest of summers.

The outcome of the game, between the top two sides in the Francis Clark Devon League premier division, should indicate the destiny of this year's title.

Two games remain after this clash and the victors will surely have put enough distance between themselves and the chasing pack, who are some way behind. A draw, however, could see the pursuers gain ground and leave plenty to play for.

On Sunday a large deputation of Sidmouth supporters invaded Budleigh's Ottermouth ground for the Devon Cup semi-final between the two sides, which saw the visitors romp home, but the victory was soured by a serious injury to Saj Patidar.

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Early in the game he made a vain leap for a catch, landed awkwardly and sustained a double fractured and dislocated ankle.

Already Sidmouth had their hosts two wickets down, with Neil Hancock and Will Gater removing both openers, but it was a while before hostilities could resume as Patidar received lengthy treatment before being taken to hospital in an ambulance.

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Marc Jenkins took a catch at the wicket off Scott Barlow to remove the dangerous Steve Spoljaric and, had the same bowler not delivered a no-ball, the same fate would have befallen Budleigh's mainstay, Bobby Dawson, earlier than it ultimately did.

With his side up against it, Dawson showed great resilience in making 56 until he was sixth man out at 111, Hancock inducing another edge to Jenkins.

A further two wickets fell on the same score and the home side eventually struggled to 119-9 off their 40 overs, but the bowler-friendliness of the pitch meant chasing the total was not a foregone conclusion.

After reaching 27, Sidmouth lost three wickets making the next 32. Thanks to Hancock, with 40 not out, and Nick Gingell, with an untypically restrained 18, that was the end of the alarms and the 120 target was reached in the 33rd over.

There had been few blots on Sidmouth's copybook in the field. Only Josh Bess ended wicketless and Louis Talay and Will Murray sent down their eight overs for just 14 runs apiece.

Hancock was top wicket-taker with 3-28.

A stranger happening upon Budleigh's ground would have found it difficult to discern which was the home side with the large contingent of travelling supporters outnumbering the home followers.

A group from Exeter CC, who adopted the visitors for the day, provided a further irritant to the hosts.

Similar numbers are expected to return to the Ottermouth tomorrow for the league match when Budleigh will be anxious to avenge the cup result and league defeat earlier in the season at the Fort Field.

It means the Fort Field is likely to have a deserted look for the reciprocal 2nd XI match.

The Sidmouth club's carbon footprint is likely to attain size 12 proportions on Sunday with more travelling support going Torquay where Sidmouth contest the Devon Twenty20 competition against Plympton, Bovey Tracey and North Devon.

Sidmouth's opponents in the Devon Cup final at the County Ground, Exeter, on Sunday, August 24, are yet to be decided - the other semi-final between Brixham and Sandford was rained off.

There was no action in any of last Saturday's games involving Sidmouth sides - the 1st XI at home to Paignton, the 2nd XI at South Devon and the 3rd XI at Cornwood.

Tomorrow the 3rd XI are at home to Paignton 2nd XI at Bicton College.

By John Goodwin


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