On the previous day there were a number of league cancellations split between rain and Covid as together they had an impact of Devon Cricket. Both also had a telling impact on this Development game against Somerset at Sidmouth. The 19th July – freedom day – may well be fast approaching but self isolating this weekend had its biggest effect on Devon Cricket and this game in particular as we lost three players less than forty-eight hours before the game was due to start. However the response of players and families to this situation was magnificent as within six hours the three vacancies had been filled, despite some real inconveniences and this says so much about the county. This report starts with genuine appreciation to those who ensured that the game could proceed. The fact it did not get past tea had unfortunately been on the cards for any avid app follower for at least seven days. There had been light rain with an over 50% chance of precipitation predicted over the entire playing hours all week. It was also another date of note as one of the off field team missed her fourth game in thirty odd seasons with potentially more to follow as the volunteer base in various areas of society sadly diminishes. It was therefore a true pleasure to welcome Plymouth’s scorer Chrissie Haffenden into the fold and, as is becoming so disappointingly the norm, the sole scorer. She was magnificent – calmness personified.
To the cricket, once again the highlights and indeed our wickets can be viewed on play-cricket (see above). Braunton’s Jack Whittaker won the toss and batted. He opened with Jake Pascoe, who had scored a ton against this opposition earlier in the season. The innings stated in similar fashion as the unfortunate Somerset opening bowlers struggled with their lines as Devon were sixty-one for none after nine overs. Both batters play to their strengths and were setting their side up for another decent score until Pascoe trip to whip a straight one through mid wicket and the ball hit top of centre. A century partnership had been the hope but the pair failed by sixteen. Nine balls later with the score unchanged off spinner Been turned one sharply enough to get through Haffenden’s gate. Enter Lawrence Walker, very much a member of this side but because of his appearance for the under 18s was making his first appearance but one who had answered the SOS. With Whittaker the pair put on seventy-six off 121 balls. Walker got an inside edge and played on. Now ten overs past the half way mark Devon were 160-3 with decisions having to be made as to the final score wanted. The captain, at the crease, later revealed that he was looking for 250 and the side’s mathematicians anticipated 280. Neither expectations were reached as Ed Butler, another one making his first appearance fell in the thirty-ninth over – 169-4. Weather permitting, Devon now had seventy-two balls to reach a defendable total. With two overs to go they had reached double Nelson with four wickets remaining when the rain became a serious problem. The wind had been changing direction all game, it was clear on hills and not out at sea or inland, the sky colour had gone through the entire grey spectrum. There had been a short break when no overs had been lost but now an early tea was taken and we did not return. Back to the cricket Zach Dunn, who had kindly agreed to fill the keeper vacancy and subsequently dropped down the order was now batting with his captain. Whittaker was on for a hundred but failed by fourteen which is a real lesson for him. He had added only another four with Dunn when he was caught behind cutting spinner Windows. The county currently has a major shortage of fit seamers at under 18 level so Hatherleigh’s Jasper Presswell had been the third SOS and thanks to the co-operation of two families had reached The Fortfield. He demonstrated in the company of Dunn that he had learnt a great deal since his batting earlier in the summer as the pair put on forty-four off thirty-eight balls. Their running and manipulation of the ball was noted in the scorers post match review. They both had the highest strike rates and they clearly demonstrated the positive approach required throughout an innings. Presswell was run out without an appeal or the need of a look at the umpire after he had slipped at the non strikers end on what was always a risky second. With Dunn, he had demonstrated an art that is a vital part of all forms of cricket. This brought to the crease one of the batting heroes from the last match, James Tyler. Unfortunately the previous day he had added his name to the lengthening list of unfit seamers after straining his side in a club practice that took place when his club’s game was another Covid victim. Due to all the problems he had kindly agreed to attend to run the drinks. He and Dunn added four more runs before the heaviest rain of the day fell and an early tea was taken with only 48 overs bowled. Duckworth, Lewis, Stern was engaged however no further play was possible despite a number of initiatives being suggested.
The under 18s now face a taxing four days in Wales with injuries now a major problem and the prospect of playing at Usk and on Newport’s second small ground with just two seamers!