JOSH Bess strode into the county record books with an unbeaten double hundred as Devon piled-up the runs against Dorset at Sidmouth.
Devon ended day one 374 runs ahead after amassing 426 for six in their 50 overs, then holding Dorset to 52 for one in reply.
Bess, the Devon captain, made an unbeaten 203 and there was a ton, too, for opener Alex Barrow, his second of the season.
Keith Donohue, Devon’s director of cricket, said they were two remarkable knocks.
“Josh has had a lean run recently and was due a score sooner rather than later,” said Donohue.
“He got himself in, got himself into a rhythm and looked like nothing would knock him off course.
“It is easy to get carried away once you get to a hundred and lose concentration. Josh just batted and batted: nothing was going to deviate him.
“Alex Barrow deserved his century for the application he showed during a tricky period before lunch. What he did allowed Josh to do what he did.”
It takes time to score a double hundred – Bess took four hours and 10 minutes over his – and by definition they don’t come along that often.
Bess is one of only nine Devon batsmen to pass 200 since they joined the competition in 1901.
For the record he went from 0-50 in 85 balls, reached 100 after facing another 60 balls, took 47 more deliveries getting to 150 and received a grand total of 232 by the time he finished. His innings contained 19 fours and seven sixes.
It was Bess’ greatest score for Devon in the 51 Championship games he has played since debuting in 2007. His previous high was 115 made against Berkshire at Finchampstead in 2012.
Chris Park, the Dorset captain, had a close-up view of the double ton squatting behind the stumps. He said: “Josh didn’t offer a half-chance, neither did he hit the ball in the air anywhere near a fielder.”
Although Devon finished the day comprehensively on top, they were a little hesitant at times before lunch.
In a running total of 59 for three Devon had lost Josh Mailling caught behind, Ben Green run-out for 28 and George Allen caught at slip pushing forward.
Bess got his eye in for the first 20 or 30, then settled in with Barrow for the duration. Their stand was grew and grew until it reached 220. The partnership ended when Barrow drove Mark Wolstenholme to mid-off. It was the only wicket Dorset took between lunch and tea, which was taken at 329 for four.
Bess kept going, sharing two more stands of 50-plus with his younger brothers Zak and Luke.
Zak made a run-a-ball 26 and Luke had 27 off 25 balls before looping a catch to short mid-on.
The man out for Dorset before the close was opener Ben Wells, caught low down at slip by Barrow off Green.
Devon 426-6 (J J Bess 203no, A W R Barrow 101), Dorset 52-1. Bonus points: Devon 4, Dorset 2.