VALIANT tail end batting by Matt Cooke and Miles Dalton almost took Sidmouth to an unlikely victory after they had been 102-9 facing Bradninch’s 176 in the first Francis Clark Devon League Premier Division match of the season, writes John Goodwin.
Skipper Will Murray has warned that the side’s third consecutive title defence will be their most difficult and this opening game proved his point. But last pair, Cooke and Dalton, showed the battling qualities that will be needed if this early season reverse is to be no more than a blip.
With Cooke making 42 and Dalton 27 not out, they had got the score to 162 when the former was a little too adventurous and was caught. The only other batsman to flourish was Nick Gingell who came to the crease at 50-4 and struck 28 in 31 balls, including two sweet sixes, to give the innings some impetus. He was seventh man out at 91 and with Jamie Wardrop and Murray quickly following an early finish looked inevitable.
Run rate was not a problem because Sidmouth had taken six overs of Bradninch’s over quota by bowling them out in 44.
The last pair kept the good balls out and struck the bad ones for runs and the scenario as Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz edged Australia to an improbable victory in the 2005 Ashes series at Edgbaston was being played out at Bradninch’s Keynsham Ground, albeit with fewer spectators braving the inclement conditions.
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Ultimately, like the Australians, Sidmouth fell short but the home supporters had been getting edgy.
Key to Bradninch’s success was a 30-run stand for their eighth wicket between Ross Acton and Will Squire which took them from 144-8 to 174-9. They also got a flyer to their innings with 35 off five overs as Will Gater struggled with direction.
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Josh Bess got a breakthrough and Murray, with 4-42, and Neil Hancock, with 3-44, pulled Sidmouth back into the game. Richard Cater, who had been a thorn in Sidmouth’s flesh making 68 at opener, was removed lbw by Dalton to make it 114-5 and Joe Webb fell soon after, one of three catches behind for Australian wicketkeeper Ben Gledhill.
But the Bradninch tail put together a highly challenging total, given extra magnitude as Gary Chappell sent down 15 overs of left arm spin for 34 runs and two wickets.
Bradninch got key performances from three of their four overseas players who escape the one per club quota restrictions either by being under 17 or holding EU passports. South African Robert Cater made 68 at opener and fellow countryman Sean Nowak bowled briskly for three wickets. He also pouched a couple of catches. New Zealander Bradley Cachopa stumped his Sidmouth opposite number and stopped Gingell as got into his stride by catching him behind.
Tomorrow Sidmouth host newly promoted Heathcoat.