By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
ELLIOT Hamilton’s summer of runs continued with an unbeaten 177 in Devon’s drawn game against Cornwall at Cornwood.
The two-day game, played to the declaration format used in First Class and National Counties cricket, ended in a draw after Devon set Cornwall 300 to win in their second innings.
Cornwall had reached 157 for six when, with little or prospect of a result either way, stumps were pulled half an hour early and the contest declared a draw.
It was Hamilton’s third hundred-plus score of the season – he made a double hundred and a century on successive Saturday afternoons for Plympton in the Tolchards Devon League – and took him close to a thousand runs so far in all matches.
Hamilton broke into the Devon side last season – a pre-season hundred in a warm-up game was his pathway into the side – and had a respectable debut summer in red and white-ball cricket.
A winter in Australia at the Lehmann Academy in Adelaide, working with specialist coaches and playing Grade cricket, opened Hamilton’s eyes to ways of improving his game he had not considered before.
Hamilton has been putting what he learned into practise since coming back from Adelaide just before the UK season started in April.
“When I went I thought I was a good-standard player but soon realised I had so much more to learn from other people before I was at their standard, which was an ego check as well as being very refreshing,” said Hamilton.
“It has made a world of difference to my game having played in such a good standard in the Adelaide League.
“Watching some of the first team players go about their business and absorb the mind sets and facets of how the better players face good bowling was a joy the do.”
Domestic cricket is a different beast ‘Down Under’, where most games are played over two days and the onus is on sides to bowl the opposition out at least once to win a match.
Fifty-over win-lose cricket, as practised across the UK, is only played in a few matches.
Batsmen value their wickets highly and have time to build an innings. Hamilton said one of his take-aways from a season in Australia was building the mental stamina needed to bat for long periods.
“The biggest thing I am still working on is not letting my strike rate determine what shots I'm playing, and knowing I will catch-up with the rate and not allowing the bowling team to force a shot out of me through the pressure they exert,” said Hamilton.
“ I learned out there to ‘reset’ after every ball and have a clear mindset to play each ball as late as possible form the start.
“I know in myself someone's got to bowl an absolute snorter to get me out when I play the ball at its latest.”
Something else Hamilton learned in Adelaide was not being afraid to play some shots.
“I know I play at my best when I'm at my most fluid and completely relaxed with my surroundings and the game at hand.”
Hamilton was out for a third-ball duck in the first innings against Cornwall, but a ton from opening partner James Horler (102) and 42 for Ed Smout-Cooper helped reach 222 all out.
Ellis Whiteford, who is off to Australia himself this winter to work on his game, was Cornwall’s leading bowler with six for 39.
Cornwall recovered from 88 for seven after a going over from Lions captain and Cornwood all-rounder Matt Skeemer (4-33) and Joe Gore (2-41) to make 208 for nine declared. Whiteford (46) and Jamie Goldsworthy (80) did the fighting back.
Hamilton (177) was the dominant partner in an unbroken stand of 269 with Horler (84) that have Devon a lead of 299.
Four wickets for Gore (4-35) were Devon’s highlights when they bowled for the second time.
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