By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
BRADNICH captain Gary Chappell is content being the underdogs in tomorrow’s Sunbelt Rentals Devon T20 finals day at Bovey Tracey CC.
Exmouth face Cornwood in the first semi-final at 10am, followed by Plymouth against Bradninch at 1pm in the second semi.
Bradninch defeated Premier side Sandford in the last eight to book their place at finals day, where they are the only side competing from outside the top flight.
Chappell may regard his side as underdogs, but they gave Sandford a nasty bite in the last round. Chappell has had a taste of success with former club Exmouth in Devon and national T20 competitions and knows labels don’t mean too much in the hurly-burley of 20-over cricket.
“Twenty20 is a funny game and anything can happen, particularly if rain plays a part, which looks likely, so we'll see what happens,” said Chappell, who led Exmouth all the way to the ECB T20 national finals day in 2015.
Chappell said promotion back to the Premier Division is Bradninch’s primary goal this season – the 50-over side led by Eliot Acton is involved in a three-way tussle with North Devon and Torquay for one of the two promotion places – and the T20 is an added extra.
“It is a bit of a bonus and allows us to play with freedom under no pressure,” said Chappell.
"Everything is clicking for us this year, but we're under no illusions that the other sides will be very tough to beat.
“Plymouth, whom we face in the semi-final, seem to be going well at the moment.
“If we were full strength I would strongly fancy us as we have some good players with Premier and T20 experience and know-how. Unfortunately, we have a few missing.”
Jon Varcoe, the Plymouth captain, is quietly confident but well aware that in run-laden batter Chappell and all-rounder Mitch Pugh the opposition have players who can change any game in a hurry.
“I don't know much about Bradninch, but they obviously have some dangerous players who are in good form,” said Varcoe.
“We are confident going into the day with a format that really suits our game.
"We have plenty of aggressive batters, who like to score quickly. Hopefully the forecast improves and we can have a good day of cricket.”
Plymouth make once enforced change to the side picked to face Exmouth in the Premier Division today (Saturday). John Kerridge comes in for James Degg who is away with Devon.
Cornwood are not having a wonderful time in the Premier Division this season so T20 cricket is a chance to show what they are capable of.
Jackson Thompson, the Cornwood captain, knows a bit more than most about the challenge of T20 cricket as he opened the batting in it for Gloucestershire and Middlesex during his pro career a decade ago.
Thompson is pleased to be playing Exmouth in the first semi-final as the two teams have ‘form’ in the league.
"Facing Exmouth is always a good challenge, but propelling from our league win over them this season, we are confident we can compete in this format too and get the desired result,” said Thompson.
Cornwood disposed of Sidmouth in the last eight of the T20 competition, which is another reasons Thompson is feels cautiously optimistic going into finals day.
“Cornwood are excited about this fixture as we have had to face some good oppositions to get to the finals day,” said Thompson.
“We have a mixture of youth and experience and so this works well in this format. It has been a team effort throughout and different people have put their hand up and performed.
“It's a great competition to play in and presents an opportunity for club cricketers to experience the thrill of T20 cricket.”
Sunday, July 25 has been fixed as the reserve date for finals day if rain stops play tomorrow. The regional rounds of the ECB National T20 are due to start the following Sunday.