By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
DARREN Cowley was back to his big-hitting best for Barton as they raced to a seven-wicket win over Shaldon Optimists.
Cowley smashed more than 4,500 Premier and A Division runs for Barton during nine summers at Cricketfield Road, which ended when he moved to Bournemouth in 2006.
Cowley committed to re-joining Barton during the close season and marked his return by thumping three sixes and 15 fours on his way to 92 not out off 66 balls.
With Matt Lipon making 26 not out in a stand of 75 unbroken with Cowley, Barton knocked off 171 to win more than 11 overs to go.
Skipper Todd Ballman (64) top scored for Shaldon. Joe Wilcox (33) and Mark Jameson (23) chipped in.
Pick of the bowlers with four for 23 was Morgan Harford. Adrian Lipton bagged three for 28.
Coming next for Barton is the short trip to the Recreation Ground to face Torquay in Division One South of the cut-down Tolchard Devon Cricket League, which gets under way this Saturday.
The two sides have not met in league action since 2011 when Torquay finished top of the A Division and Barton were rock bottom.
Torquay did the double over Barton in 2011. They won by four wickets at Cricketfield Road and three wickets in the Rec Ground rematch.
Torquay and Barton are grouped with Abbotskerswell and Bovey Tracey 2nd XI in South One, the tier two seeding.
Adam Parker, the Barton captain, can’t wait to get started.
“I think our group changed slightly from what I first heard, but I we have a good mix and they will all be competitive games, which is great,” said Parker.
THREE wickets for Richard Acton and two each for the Cowdry brothers put Abbotskerswell on course for a 22-run win over Chudleigh.
Abbots were in need of a pick-me-up after the previous week’s warm-up pasting by Bovey Tracey – and got one in the end.
Chudleigh new boy Kam Singh, recently acquired from Alphington & Countess Wear, former Sidmouth medium pacer George House (3-24) and Will Heather, all bowled miserly spells either side of halfway in the 40-over game.
Only opener Charlie Hill with 60 off 59 balls made much headway in a running total of 83 for four.
Acton (42) and Sam Carpenter (36) hoisted 81 for the fifth wicket as Abbots accelerated nicely.
Will Heather, Chudleigh’s captain for the day in the absence of brother Matt, thought the medium pace of Will Lammonby might force a break through.
In a nine-ball second over Lammonby picked up two wickets – Carpenter then Acton – and he took three more in four balls spread across two further overs to finish with five for 18 as Abbots were dismissed for 197.
Chudleigh needed some sizeable stands in the top six to fire up the chase, but only Mark Solway had any stickability.
Solway, who went first wicket down, batted through for an unbeaten 63 in Chudleigh reply of 175 all out.
Pick of the partnerships was one of 53 with Mark Russell. Sadly for Chudleigh it started when they were 113 for eight.
Tom Heath kept it tight from the start with the ball for Abbots. Acton (3-24) and Ben Cowdry (2-36) dealt with the middle order, which left Dan Cowdry (2-29) and Eliott Adams to account for most of the rest.
Chudleigh 2ndXI (257-3) overwhelmed Abbotskerswell 2ndXI (78) by 179 runs at Kate Brook.
IVYBRIDGE look in good shape for the belated start of league cricket this Saturday after registering two wins over Yelverton.
With Harry Solomon and Dinesh Raheja both scoring half-centuries, Ivybridge 1st XI defeated Yelverton by 30 runs.
Solomon top scored on 69 not out for the Bridge and Raheja made 61 in a total of 204 for eight. There were three wickets each for Ben Grove and Hadleigh Scott-Kirk.
Dave Ackford made 55 on his first game back for Yelverton since leaving Plympton and Rob Grove was unbeaten on 44. They finished adrift on 174 for six.
The second team won on the chase at Yelverton, where Simon Kidd (31) and Arthur Johnson (28) steered them to a five-wicket win.