By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
DEVON scraped off the ring rust accumulated during a near four-month lay-off to beat Dorset by four wickets at sweltering Sidmouth.
Devon usually start practice matches during the first week of April and by the second week of August can look a bit jaded at times. Not this year when they have not played at all.
There was some inevitable lack of cohesion in all departments when the Dorset innings got under way as the visitors hurtled to 64 without loss.
Devon bowled their way back into the game with Hugo Whitlock (4-55) taking the wickets while Jamie Stephens (2-32) and Ed Middelton (3-51) in his second spell kept the runs down.
Alex Eckland dug in for a patient 77 and Josh Digby chipped and chased for 34 in the final fifth of the innings.
Dorset’s total of 238 all out always looked within Devon’s reach after Alex Barrow (57), Matt Golding (34) and Dan Pyle got the chase up to 156 for three.
Golding had been and gone by the time Barrow was caught unawares by a ball that stopped on him and popped up obligingly to a fielder.
Five runs later Pyle, who had been swishing away happily against the medium pacers, was given out lbw when it looked like his sizeable stride down the wicket might have saved him.
Elliot Hamilton did not last long – in and then out lbw for five – which left Devon 178 for six and had Dorset sniffing an improbable win. But not for long.
Ben Beaumont was well installed at one end and senior player Zak Bess had been held back as a just-in-case measure.
Bess (27no) signaled his intent with some hearty blows down the ground and in tandem with Beaumont (44no) put on 66 unbroken to win the game with more than three overs to spare.
Beaumont, a 17-year-old batter from the Cornwood club who has come up through the county youth ranks, slapped Josh Digby back over his head for six to win the match.
Dave Tall, the Devon director of coaching, said for a first outing over such a long lay-off there were plenty of ‘collective positives’ to take from the game.
“First and foremost we showed that if you concentrate on the job in hand and stick to it you can turn games round,” said Tall.
“Dorset went off fast and at first we looked a bit rusty as it was our first game at this level this season against a side that had played a couple.
“We stopped giving runs away for a long time and it was only at the end when they swung the bat to get past 200 that we were under any sort of pressure.
“Golding and Alex Barrow looked like a million dollars when they were batting, not just because of the runs they scored but they way they got them by consistently finding the gaps.
“We had a bit of a wobble after Baz (Barrow) went, but Zak and Ben Beaumont consolidated briefly then got on with it.”
Click here for match highlights on YouTube
Dorset 238 (A J Eckland 77, J G Digby 34, T J Prest 32; H M Whitlock 4-55, E W O Middleton 3-51), Devon 244-6 (A W R Barrow 57, M C Golding 38, D J Pyle 34, B A Beaumont 44no, Z G G Bess 27no; S W Currie 3-36). Devon bt Dorset by 4 wkts.