By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
ELLIOT Hamilton rattled off a century as Devon opened the season with a 13-run win over Clevedon at Instow.
Plympton youngster Hamilton, who has gone through the youth ranks for club and county, went in at first wicket down and almost immediately saw surviving opener Harry Ward trapped lbw.
Next man in was Ben Beaumont and the two teenagers shored up the innings with a stand of 76 for the third wicket
Beamont (Cornwood) went for a patient 36 and three runs later Devon were 95 for four after the early demise of Archie Farkins.
Skipper for the day Zak Bess (59) then joined Hamilton in the middle and the two left-handers proceeded to plunder125 for the fifth wicket.
Bess and Hamilton showed little respect to the reputation of jobbing pro Jake Lintott, whose T20 Blast CV includes Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire and, most recently Warwickshire. He was smashed for 102 in the 10 overs he bowled.
By the time Hamilton was fifth out on 247 he had been involved in stands worth 231 runs. He scored 126 off 112 balls and hit 11 fours and six sixes, one of which was an imperious lofted drive over extra-cover.
After losing Bess then Hamilton one after the other Devon were 247 for six with eight over to go.
Adam Small (37no) and Plympton’s Ben Privett (25no) put on 61 unbroken in the time left to get Devon past 300.
Harry Ellison – he’s the son of former Kent and England bowler Richard Ellison – led the Clevedon reply with a brisk 136 off 128 balls.
The longer Ellison and intott (60) stayed together the greater Clevedon’s chances of winning remained.
Lintott fell at 153 but Ellison carried on and on. Even when Bess knocked over his off-stump with 51 needed to win and only three wickets left, Clevedon refused to roll over.
Clevedon reached the final over from Jamie Stephens needing 14 to win with their last pair at the wicket. Stephens ended it by bowling Max Horton with the first ball.
Devon are partly using their pre-season programme to look at players in the 17-20 age range who have gone through the county youth system.
Dave Tall, the director of cricket, said he learned plenty about the young guns such as Hamilton and Beaumont and hoped they learned a few things too.
“To be out there for any length of time would be good for Elliot, but to get a hundred first game will stand him in good stead for the rest of the season,” said Tall.
“Elliott also had the experience of batting for a long time with Zak Bess, someone who has played a lot of cricket for Devon, which would have been a learning experience.
“It is a bit early in the season to judge anyone or anything, especially as there will be tougher games to play in. Having said that, this was just the right game for the players we had picked.
“What was pleasing to see was the intelligent way in which we batted. There was a time when we could easily have been 240-250 all out, but thanks to a fine cameo between Adam Small and Ben Privett we went past 300.
“There was no smashing it around, but sensible batting where the strike was rotated and the two of them ran well between the wickets.”
A minute's silence was observed (pictured below) prior to the match in memory of North Devon CC president John Phillips and umpire John Silver, both of whom have died since the end of the 2020 season.
Devon 308-6 (E H Hamilton 126, Z G G Bess 59, B A Beaumont 36, A J Small 37no, B H Privett 25no; J Harding 2-12, M Carpenter 2-52), Clevedon 295 (H Ellison 136, J B Lintott 60; B H Privett 3-55, Z G G Bess 2-36). Devon bt Clevedon by 13 runs.