The rain had enabled a prompt departure from Axminster and a proper meal as opposed to the proposed stop at McDonalds. It was a get to knowing you session as there were seven players who had not been involved in winning the Isle of Wight Festival the previous August. The problems with regard kit had somehow been resolved and after a trip through Judy Garland rainbows, a night and decent breakfast at the Ormonde House it was an eleven minute journey to Totton. An under 15 game had resulted in the track, that was to be used for all three days, not receiving full covering and the rain that had followed us overnight from the West country had added to the groundsmans problems. Things did not look good on arrival. The groundsman started preparing the pitch and handed it over to the umpires at . Matthew Hickey then spun correctly and this vital toss was won. Hampshire would bat. In ideal seamer conditions Hampshire lost wickets. On 25 there main man the outstanding Adam Rouse helped a catch on to Thompson off the impressive Ingham. He had scored 15 with two high pedigree leg side fours. Under 16 Gibson was next to fall thanks to the same combination and at 30-2 Devon were looking a very good unit. Seventeen runs later left arm seamer Craig Eaves bowled Jamie Miller for 12. Miller had played against the twenty-ones at Axminster. Thirty-three important runs were added by Stone, who did not play in the two day game as he had a West of England trial, and King. The fourth wicket fell on 80 when the impressive Brown caught Stone off Connor Bryan. Bryan bowled his six overs at 2, a very useful contribution. Stone had batted for 108 minutes and had been the home side’s cornerstone. Brown took another almost identical catch off Alex Carr to send back King to the pavilion. The game had been reduced to forty-one overs a side and Devon were well and truly in the driving seat at 85-5 after thirty four overs. They did not exert the coup de grace. Instead of pressurising, gaps were left in the field where the hosts could milk. There seemed no real intention for Hampshire to hit their way out of trouble but they did not need to as they picked up over four and a half an over when runs had and were to be a premium. The home side only scored five boundaries all innings. A combination of good bowling and damp conditions. Hampshire was 113-7 at the end of the fortieth. Huxtable took two catches off Eaves and Hickey. With the benefit of hindsight the game was lost in this final stage when the screw was not turned and the missing nine runs were conceded. It just drifted. Hampshire was to subsequently hold everything and Devon had failed on a couple of half chances in the field which was another contributory factor in the end result.
At tea he balance was most certainly in our favour but it would need some light and shade. The opening partnership had both. It was a brave decision but totally right one to open with Gater and Thompson. Gater had an excellent three days, some real maturity added to his huge natural talent – one of the real plusses of the trip. Gater was given freedom to take the game away as early as possible and Thompson to anchor. A role he had undertaken to perfection the previous Saturday in Torquay’s win against Exeter. They put on eighteen before Gater was well held by King. Devon continued to edge towards the target when Thompson fell to the second of three excellent catches. He did not hit it hard enough to beat the infield and Devon was now 34-2. It quickly became 34-3 as Hickey’s poor week with the bat commenced. He was dropped and promptly next ball was caught by the Isle of Wight’s Miller. Huxtable joined his mate Alex Brown, who was batting really well. Another of Devon’s top order with a slight confidence problem. He most certainly need not have one. With Barnie Huxtable Brown got back into the hunt. They put on 36 in a very sensible manner. The first spin of the match was now evident and Brown’s tried and trusted counter looked ideal for the conditions. After 42 minutes at the crease Huxtable gave keeper Rouse his first catch and at 70-4 Devon would have to dig in again. Zak Bess, who by the end of the week was back to his best, had also been suffering and succumbed second ball to give leg spinner Miller his one wicket - caught and bowled. Forty-two were now needed as it was 72-5. It became 87-7 as first Brown was well held sweeping hard at mid wicket for an exceptional seventy-eight ball 40 and Golding was the second caught behind. Matthewman dug in, Eaves hit the bad ball for four (Devon hit twelve fours and a six) but was eighth out on 101 the third caught behind. Hampshire were now turning the screw giving the batters nothing and it became too much, Matthewman batted 34 minutes but was out at 103 and it was all over one run later when his room mate Connor Bryan gave Wright his fourth wicket and the fine figures of 4-7 off eight being the third top catch of the innings. A match winning spell. It is easy to pick up the missing nine runs after the innings (we also conceded more extras) but there was a huge lesson to be learnt as the game was there for the taking just the real faith was missing. They were actually as good but there was unfortunately some carry on into the two dayer. There are huge disadvantages playing on the same ground for three days as any baggage is carried forward.
The Oak Inn at Bank was another good choice. Craig celebrated his birthday and SuperGates one finger lifted the LDV. The minibus was of the short wheel base variety and had caused major logistical problems. A rare thank you to the travelling families who had proved invaluable with their support and assistance.