By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
CORNWOOD captain Jackson Thompson has already started plotting the Devon Cup downfall of the club he steered to a league-and-cup double.
Thompson was Heathcoat’s skipper in 2019 when they lifted the Tolchards Devon League Premier Division title for the first time and claimed the Devon KO Cup.
Despite leading Heathcoat to more success than they had ever enjoyed before, Thompson left Knightshayes during the close season to re-join Cornwood, where he had previously played between 2014-2016.
Although a limited league programme was played around Covid-19 restrictions last season, all three T20 KO Cups were shelved for the summer. The competitions are scheduled to start on Sunday, June 6 2021 – Covid-19 permitting.
Thompson played a big role for Heathcoat in the finals day at Instow in 2019 where, ironically, he thumped an unbeaten century in the semi-final win over Cornwood then took two wickets for 24 runs as Sidmouth were held to 136 for eight in the final. Rob Holman and Callum French steered Heathcoat to an easy nine-wicket win.
Cornwood have appointed Thompson skipper for the 2021 season, which puts the 34-year-old all-rounder in the slightly odd position of trying to deny his former team-mates a chance to retain the cup they won under him.
Thompson is still in touch with his ex-Heathcoat team-mates, but friendships and a sociable drink or two will be put to one side until the match is over.
“I know the boys at Heathcoat will give us a tough fight – and no doubt there will be quite a lot of banter directed at me on the day – but this is all part and parcel of the game that we love so much,” said Thompson.
“Obviously, it's going to feel a little strange but, at the same time, it will be great to visit the place where I have enjoyed tremendous success both as a player and captain.”
Thompson said he won’t be dwelling on the past when it comes to playing Heathcoat, but he will be referring to it.
“Having prior knowledge of the ground – and the players – will be very handy on the day,” said Thompson.
“For me it's all about being in the present and, as a mindset and strategy coach, I am constantly exploring ways to get an edge in sport. This starts with me being to get myself in a state of mind when I lead Cornwood where I am able to make better decisions, or perform on a personal level.”
Peter Randerson, who replaced Thompson as captain at Heathcoat, is under no illusions what his old team-mate will be trying to do.
“There is no doubt Jackson will want to take the cup off us,” said Randerson.
The Devon T20 Cup, now sponsored by construction industry hire specialists Sunbelt Rentals, will continue to use the all-in-a-day festival format in early rounds. Heathcoat have been grouped with Cornwood and Budleigh Salterton in Pool Three.
Seventeen teams have entered this season’s competition and have been split into six qualifying pools. To get eight quarter-finalists, organisers will calculate the two runners-up with the best records in their pool and offer them a place in the next round.
The quarter-final draw will be made after the festivals have been played. The set date for last-eight games is Sunday, June 27.
Both semi-finals and the final have been booked in for Bovey Tracey CC on Sunday, July 4. The reserve date is July 25.
Festival Round Draw – first-named club to host:
Pool One – Exmouth, Plympton, North Devon.
Pool Two – Sandford, Bovey Tracey, Exeter.
Pool Three – Heathcoat, Cornwood, Budleigh Salterton.
Pool Four – Sidmouth, Seaton, Cullompton.
Pool Five – Barton, Abbotskerswell, Bradninch.
Pool Six – Plymouth, Paignton.