MATT Theedom slashed a career-best 171 not out to set Sandford on course for a 102-run win over Budleigh Salterton to get the A Division season under way.

Theedom has had some good days before – 136 off Exmouth in 2007 and 168 against Westleigh in a North Devon League game – but 171 topped the lot.

With Matt Hopkins (57) and Toby Lochead (44) both chipping in too, Sandford raced to 322 for six in 50 overs.

Theedom clattered 17 fours and 11 sixes during the 105 balls he was in the middle. He went from 0-50 in 53 balls, 50-100 in 28 more and took just 14 balls to go from 100-150.

Along the way there were stands of 141 with Hopkins, 34 with Shane Evenden and 36 unbroken with Ben Clement, of which Theedom scored 32!

“Theeds was brilliant,” said new skipper Ryan Glass.

The man himself was modest and praised the groundsman for preparing a good wicket to bat on.

He added: “Budleigh had a few players missing – Rob Craze and their overseas who hasn’t arrived – but are still a good side.

“To beat a strong side by more than 100 runs in our first game is a great start to the season.”

Budleigh’s bowlers, with the exception of Somerset’s Max Waller, all took a pasting. Waller was one for 39 from 10 overs.

Adam Jones was the only Budleigh bowler to send down a maiden – and his other nine overs cost 99 runs.

Waller went on to make an unbeaten century a little more sedately in Budleigh’s reply of 220 all out.

Ordinarily, 108 not out off 90 balls would grab the attention, but on this occasion Waller was well and truly upstaged by Theedom.

Waller went in at six for two after Budleigh lost opener Ben Phillips to Jamie Palmer.

Palmer – freed from the burden of captaincy this season now Ryan Glass is at the helm – took four for 42 and ensured maximum bowling points by knocking over the tail.

Budleigh had their moments – Waller and Sam Richardson (24) put on 67 for the fourth wicket – but were overwhelmed by the target.

Pete Steer (2-47) and Ben Clement (2-34) were the supporting bowlers.

Evenden’s return to the attack didn’t go well – his two overs went for 27 runs.

For Budleigh captain Joel Murphy there was little point dwelling on what went wrong.

“When a bloke scores 174 against you the chances or winning are never going to be great,” said Murphy.

“There was a short boundary on one side of the ground and Theeds knew how to find it.

“”Sadly, we didn’t have anyone who could do quite the same thing.

“What we did have was Max Waller, who bowled and batted supremely well and looks very promising for us.”

Murphy said the result had to be put into context, and he remains optimistic of a better performance against Bradninch this Saturday.

“We were three or four blokes missing, including Rob Craze, our university all-rounder, and overseas Matt Junk, who has been delayed getting here.”