DEVON’S red-ball programme in the NCCA County Championship ended on a low note with a three-wicket defeat by Shropshire at Sidmouth, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.
A gripping game of cricket got as far as lunch on the final day before Shropshire reached the 213 they needed in their second innings to win the game.
Devon had Shropshire wobbling at 155 for six overnight and were hoping for early wickets on day three to put pressure on the tail enders. It did not happen.
Sam Ellis faced 139 balls for an unbeaten 21 that helped Shropshire creep to victory. Mitch Stanley (20) was the other not-out batter when stumps were pulled.
Defeat means Devon did not win a Championship game this season and finished bottom of the Western Division table.
For Dave Tall, the county club’s director of cricket, the performance against Shropshire was more important than the result.
“The fact it took Shropshire 85 overs to make 213 to win says a lot about how well we bowled,” said Tall.
“Every three-day game this season is a step forward from the previous one It is only three games ago that we were stuffed by 10 wickets by Herefordshire.
“Players are getting into good habits and while there remains a lot to do we are getting there, which bodes well going forward.”
Highlights of the final game of the season included seven wickets for seamer Matt Skeemer, which included a corker of a yorker to dismiss Shropshire pro Graham Wagg in the second innings.
Calum Haggett, the Devon professional, scored his maiden century for the county in the second innings. He bowled a gruelling 38 overs in the match.
“Calum has been an absolute dream to have around the group, both as a cricketer and a person,” said Tall
Acting captain Matt Thompson, who has led the side for most of the season in the absence of skipper Jamie Stephens, was named player of the season and awarded the Geoff Evans Memorial Trophy during the game. He averaged more than 50 with the bat in 50-over and red-ball cricket.
The trophy remembers former Devon player and later secretary then chairman Geoff Evans, who died in 2016 aged 77. It was handed over to Thompson by Geoff’s widow Ruth and son Greg.
Devon 148 (C J Haggett 47, M W Thompson 39; G G Wagg 5-16, B Parker 3-37) & 242 (J D Horler 31, C J Haggett 109; M T Stanley 3-38, J Shaw 2-38), Shropshire 178 (G G Wagg 109; M P Skeemer 4-25, C J Haggett 4-51) & 213-7 (G G Wagg 36,S M Gregory 30, R X Clarke 30; M P Skeemer 3-40, E WO Middleton 2-66). Shropshire (21pts) bt Devon (4) by 3 wkts.