By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
MARK Gribble got his head down to make an unbeaten 31 that steered Cornwall to a narrow two-wicket win over Devon in a 50-over friendly at Sandford.
Cornwall, set 147 to win under Duckworth-Lewis rules after a rain break, reached 97 for three thanks to a patient stand of 72 between Joe Phillips (34) and Alex Bone (40) that rescued them from a worrying 25 for three.
At that point Cornwall were in the driving seat, but losing four wickets for seven runs scored in the space of 17 balls put a different complexion on the game.
As Cornwall subsided from 97 for three to 104 for seven, Toby Codd (3-27) was on a hat-trick when Tom Dinnis went out to bat. He survived, but not for long as he was next out on 125.
Cornwall were up with the asking rate, but running out of wickets in a hurry. As long as Gribble had someone at the other end who stayed there the game was still winnable.
Enter Conway Gilbert, who kept one end up for 13 not out while Gribble batted on at the other end.
Two balls into the final over Gribble got on strike and slammed the next ball down from Hugo Whitock between point and cover for the winning runs. Gribble faced 48 balls for his 31, scored the hard way with just three boundaries.
As games go it wasn’t a classic, but it was absorbing in the way low-scoring games often are.
Dave Tall, Devon’s director of cricket, said plus points were seeing teenagers Beaumont and Hamilton score runs and the manner of the defeat.
“It is easy to say it with hindsight, but had we batted our overs and nicked a few runs we would have made it more difficult to Cornwall,” said Tall.
“I know the temptation to throw the bat at everything when you are six of seven wickets down, but when you are out you are out.
“Losing tight games is where and how players learn how the game is played and I hope everyone who played today will have benefited from the learning experience of what might have been done differently.”
Chris Hunkin, the performance manager for Cornwall cricket who was in charge of the team, said it was a game well won under pressure at the end.
Joe Phillips batted really well with Alex Bone and you can see why Gloucestershire have offered Joe an academy place,” said Hunkin.
“We were 19 for two when Joe went in, and 25 for three not long after, but the situation did not faze him at all.
“Wickets change everything and losing four when we did put us under pressure for the first time in the match.
“I thought Mark Gribble and Conway Gilbert coped really well with the pressure out there and saw it through nicely.”
Hunkin also had a word or two for the bowlers, who had Devon all out for 150 in the 39th over when the total could easily have been far more.
“After the first 25-30 overs felt our spinners, Goldsworthy and Piran Kent, had put us in control for the first time.
“At one stage we were looking at chasing 180-190, may be more: instead we bowled them out early for 150.”
Elliot Hamilton top scored for Devon with 67. Hamilton, who opened the innings with Jason Degg, was finally seventh man out with the score on 143.
Hamilton and Ben Beaumont (38) were partners in a stand of 79 for the second wicket after James Degg went cheaply to Gilbert in the second over.
Devon’s lower-order batsmen did not stick around long as the last four wickets fell for just seven runs scored en-route to an all out total of 150.
Devon 150 (E H Hamilton 67, B A Beaumont 38, M C Golding 20; L P Goldsworthy 5-30), Cornwall 148-8 (A W Bone 40, M H Gribble 31no, J P Phillips 34; T R J Codd 3-27). Cornwall bt Devon by 2 wkts.