Devon Under 16's
1997 Season's Report
Played 12 Won 5 Lost 7
v HABERDASHERS ASKE SCHOOL at Axminster C.C. - Devon lost by 56 runs
HABERDASHERS 181 for 9 (B.Latchem 3-42)
DEVON 125 all out (S.Edwards 51)
v SOMERSET at Queens College. - Devon lost by 4 runs
SOMERSET 176 for 8
DEVON 172 for 3 (S.Edwards 81)
COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP COMPETITION FIXTURES
v CORNWALL at Bude C.C. - Devon lost by 80 runs
CORNWALL 211 for 8 (B.Latchem 3-62)
DEVON 131 all out
v HAMPSHIRE at Bovey Tracey C.C. - Devon lost by 10 wickets
DEVON 115 all out (M.Wood 42)
HAMPSHIRE 116 for 0
v ISLE OF WIGHT at Axminster C.C. - Devon won by 51 runs
DEVON 255 for 1 (S.James 129*; S.Edwards 60*)
ISLE OF WIGHT 204 for 7 (B.Latchem 3-37)
v SUSSEX at East Grinstead C.C. - Devon lost by 49 runs
SUSSEX 235 for 6 (W.Murray 4-66)
DEVON 186 for 9 (B.Carter 37; W.Murray 39*)
v WILTSHIRE at Warminster C. C. ‑ Devon won by 8 wickets
WILTSHIRE 156 all out
DEVON 158 for 2 (S.James 72*)
THE ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL
v ISLE OF WIGHT at Ryde C.C. - Devon won by 2 runs
DEVON 221 all out (P.Arnold 45; D.Court 37)
ISLE OF WIGHT 219 for 9 (D.Court 4-41)
v WARWICKSHIRE at Ryde C.C. - Devon lost by 28 runs
WARWICKSHIRE 173 for 8 (T.Kekana 3-16)
DEVON 145 for 9 (S.Edmonds 31*; T.Kekana 33*)
v SHROPSHIRE at Northwood C.C. - Devon won by 7 wickets
SHROPSHIRE 143 all out (D.Court 4-25)
DEVON 145 for 3 (S.Edwards 32; P.Arnold 42*; D.Court 42*)
v ESSEX at Ventnor C.C. - Devon lost by 4 wickets
DEVON 140 all out (D.Manning 49*)
ESSEX 142 for 6 (B.Latchem 4-38)
THIRD / FOURTH PLACE PLAY OFF
v WARWICKSHIRE at Ventnor C.C. - Devon won by 68 runs
DEVON 180 for 9 (B.Elphick 33: D.Court 30; T.Kekana 41*)
WARWICKSHIRE 112 all out (W.Murray 5-38; D.Court 4-28)
Rain affected reduced to 36 overs a side
THE 1997 SQUAD
D.Manning (Captain), P.Arnold, R.Bryan, B.Carter, D.Court, S.Edmonds, S.Edwards, B.Elphick, P.Fraser, I.Gear, R.Hopkins, S.James, T.Kekana, R.Knapman, B.Latchem, W.Murray, C.Parkes, N.Rowe, J.Sienesi, M.Wood.
The satisfaction of any season is where clear progress can be shown and the 1997 Under 16 season in this and other ways was a most successful year. The development in the side that played and lost against Haberdashers at Axminster and the one that comprehensively beat Warwickshire in the Isle of Wight was immense. It was not success all the way as the side had to learn a number of hard lessons. What was disappointing was once again far too much time had to be spent on improving the fielding and running between the wickets. The fact that the side was fielding in the Isle of Wight to the required standard is a tribute to the players dedication and hard practice. It is vital that these two important areas of cricket are taught throughout the County at under 11 / 12 level and this is a problem that the Youth Board are currently trying to resolve. Because of the financial implications of both a festival and a tour, the Midland Tour was dropped in 1997 and this created major problems. The tour has always been the ideal opportunity of allowing players and management to get to know each other and to impart the sides playing philosophy to the squad. This time together was greatly missed in 1997 and is now the subject of review. Another problem experienced for the first time was the rugby tour and no less than five players were not available at one time or another during of the season and this affected the balance of the side and more importantly its preparation.
The season started with what is becoming our annual defeat by the Haberdashers Aske School. Rather disappointingly we have only beaten the school side once in four outings and realistically the age gap should not be so great a problem. This fixture provides an ideal opportunity of looking at players in a match environment and is nearly always closely fought. Devon invited the School side to bat and were in the driving seat at 66 for 6 but the next two partnerships put on over a hundred and the game slipped away. This was lesson one. The bowling showed great promise with Ryan Hopkins, David Court, William Murray, who has come to cricket late in life, and leg spinner Bryn Latchem all bowling well. The batting was most disappointing, perhaps due to nerves, but singles were not being looked for, let alone taken, and apart from an excellent 50 from Simon Edwards no one took the initiative. Disappointingly we did not uterlise all our overs - lesson two.
Our first County Championship match was against Cornwall on the Bude sea front. Cornwall were in trouble at 26 - 3 and again at 74 - 5 but then recovered to 166 - 6 - lesson one had obviously not been learnt! Cornwall eventually scored 211 for 8 off their 50 overs and far too many runs were given away by careless and to be perfectly blunt, poor fielding - lesson three. Without a finger spinner in the squad, it was obvious that Bryn Latchem's leg spin was going to be a very important part of the sides armoury and he again performed well. The batting again disappointed with the side being dismissed in 41.5 overs - lesson two had still to be learnt. A straight 6 from David Court over the pavilion was the only really memorable moment.
We played Hampshire at Bovey Tracey and it was soon obvious that the majority of the players had not had enough experience playing against class spinners. David Court and Matthew Wood put on 42 for the first wicket, Wood and Simon Edwards put on 54 for the second but the remaining eight wickets could only contribute 20 more runs but this time we at least batted to the 48th over - getting better. It really was a shock to the system the way the good Hampshire spinners were approached by the batsman and this will be an important subject for all the county youth squads in the winter. Hampshire knocked off the runs in 27.3 overs without loss. It could now only get better.
And indeed it did. At Axminster Devon took the Isle of Wight attack for 255 for 1 with Simon James scoring a memorable 129* off 171 balls in 186 minutes. He struck 18 fours and a six. He was well supported in a second wicket partnership of 177 by Simon Edwards who was undefeated for 60 off 82 balls. The Island also contributed 47 extras. Bryn Latchem took another three wickets and the side learnt that winning is enjoyable - lesson four.
We then played Somerset at Queens College in a friendly and to this day the writer does not fully understand why this match was lost. Somerset were 176 for 8 at the end of their 50 overs with Russell Bryan making a welcome return from his rugby tour to Canada. He bowled well and the side started running out opponents - the message was getting through. Devon, despite losing an early wicket seemed in complete control of the situation with Simon Edwards leading the way with a fine 81. He was well supported in a century second wicket partnership with James Sienesi. It would have appeared that the run chase was being well paced and then without warning a batsman retired unwell and, taken by surprise, the management did not respond sufficiently quickly to the situation and alter the batting order. What was required was a quick 20 from David Court but the opportunity was not taken. Somehow the side lost by 4 runs and this was despite 8 off two balls from Court when he did arrive at the wicket. Lesson five learnt by the management.
The new format of the County Championship was proving a logistical nightmare. Previously our fixtures had not necessitated too great travelling but the fixture computer resulted in our playing Sussex at East Grinstead - which seemed the furthest ground from Devon on one day and Wiltshire at Warminster the next. Had we had unlimited finances we could have made a mini tour of the two fixtures but despite increased funding our resources are still limited. The long journey to East Grinstead included a delay due to a motorway crash and some of the squad had to travel from Wales where they had played in the Under 17 side which had beaten Glamorgan the previous day. Sussex amassed the highest score of the season against Devon and this was despite the removal of their high scoring openers for 24. William Murray put in another fine spell of bowling. The Sussex opening bowlers performed well and assisted by fine catching behind the stumps reduced Devon to 28 - 4, and then 44-5, 54-6 and 62 - 7. Dire straits. The tail batted really well occupying all of the 50 overs (lesson two fully learnt) with Russell Bryan, Ben Carter, William Murray and Bryn Latchem all demonstrating the patience and technique required. Despite the result a promising performance.
Wiltshire were defeated the next day, they were bowled out for 156 with the wickets being shared around a varied attack and two more batsmen were run out! Devon reached their target with ten overs to spare. James Sienesi and Simon James put on 46 for the first wicket - James and Edwards took the score to 115 and, in the company of Ben Elphick, James steered his side home, he was undefeated on a fine 72 which had taken 141 minutes off 122 balls.
A decision will have to be made whether we continue in the County Championship. With the County giving preference to the under 17 Texaco Trophy at this time of the season a full under 16 squad is very rarely fielded and we may well follow the example of Somerset and Dorset and play only friendly fixtures in the future.
And so to the Isle of Wight. It was decided to take a side that included a couple players from the under 15 squad as the festival was the ideal opportunity of giving them an opportunity to develop. Sadly Russell Bryan, who was proving to be a key member of the squad, had to withdraw through injury a few days before the festival and there was a further withdrawal two days before departure. This resulted in Devon's under 14 captain, who has been selected for the West of England tour to the West Indies in 1998, being selected at the eleventh hour. The balance of the side looked promising and so it proved to be. They played a high standard of cricket and perhaps most importantly outfielded every other side on the Island.
The opening match against an over age Isle of Wight side was a closely fought contest, Devon batted and scored a respectable 221 all out in the 50 overs. Six batsmen reached double figures with the under 15 captain Philip Arnold leading the way with an excellent 45. The Isle of Wight were 2 runs short which had been greatly assisted by no less than 31 wides (lesson 6) but David Court bowled well and David Manning took two excellent stumpings off Bryn Latchem. Two more run outs helped and the side looked a top unit in the field. They did not crack under pressure and took wickets at vital stages.
On the next day Warwickshire were apparently dead and buried at 30 -5 and 66 -6 but lesson one had still not been taken in. Under 15 Opening Bowler Ian Gear took two quick wickets and our South African opening bowler Thami Kekana removed the young England batsman Bell. Phil Arnold was having a memorable game behind the stumps taking three catches and a stumping but not to be outdone David Manning, having a day off behind the stumps, held a stunning catch at slip. The seventh wicket partnership of 81 gave Warwickshire the confidence and indeed breathing space they needed to retrieve the situation. The early bowling and fielding had been of the highest class but it was obvious as the speed of the Warwickshire's management circuits of the ground reduced they were getting back into the game. David Manning's had been somewhat restricted in his tactical planning by the enforced removal from the attack of Kekana for roughing up the danger area. Devon followed the Warwickshire example and were 20-3, 50-6, 61-8 and 93-9. The Warwickshire bowling was of a high standard but our number 7 was still at the crease and he was having the sort of debut that you dream about. The County's under 14 captain Steven Edmonds was batting with the aplomb of someone much older and his innings included a splendid straight six. He was then joined by Thami Kekana and despite Edmonds being hit on the arm by a fierce straight drive from his partner the pair put on an undefeated 52 for the last wicket. Kekana hit a couple of sixes and the most memorable was when he stepped two paces down the wicket and put their opening bowler out of the ground. This restored our own confidence and again we had batted the 50 overs.
To reach the semi-final stage of the competition the side needed to beat Shropshire and this was achieved with three overs to spare. Shropshire were 95 - 8 and yet were allowed to reach 143 all out in 46.5 overs. It really is vital that sides are not let off the hook quite so often has happened this season. David Court who was again having a fine all round festival took four wickets and the side took seven catches and two run outs to further reinforce the progress being made in the field. Devon lost both openers in reaching 34 but Simon Edwards, batting well until he fell, and an excellent fourth wicket partnership of 70 between Phil Arnold and David Court took the team home. It was a fine Court innings, his shot selection was perfect and he gave the innings the required impetus facing 44 balls in a 37 minute stay at the wicket in reaching 42. If David can control his impulsiveness, he will be a more than useful cricketer.
The County faced Essex in the semi-final and took the positive step of batting on winning the toss. Disaster struck despite the fact that Ben Elphick batted well, Devon slumped to 47 for 7 off only 23 overs. Plans were being rapidly made as to how to spend the rest of the day as it appeared the game would be over by lunch. David Manning was at the wicket and he played the perfect captain's innings. He was 49 not out when the last wicket fell in the 50th over and was well supported by the tail that took the score to 140. William Murray demonstrated what a useful batsman he is and, although insulted by an opponent, Thami Kekana continued where he had left off against Warwickshire with an unforgettable six into the adjoining car park. What was an interesting fact was the number of leg before decisions given by the Essex umpire. He allegedly had not given any all week but come the semi-final we lost four wickets in this way. The very fact that Essex were not certain of winning the game until the last few overs speaks volumes about the attitude of the Devon side. They put on an outstanding fielding performance with Bryn Latchem picking up another four wickets. At the death a couple of chances were not taken and Essex went through to eventually win the competition.
The third / fourth place final was rain affected and again having won the toss David Manning decided to bat. Originally the game was to be 46 overs but this was further reduced to 36 and this makes Devon's final score of 180 - 9 even more impressive. Openers Elphick and Latchem put on 52 with the reverse sweep surfacing for the first time in the week, the momentum was carried on by David Court and a fine 41 from Kekana. Devon caught everything and bowled out Warwickshire in 31 overs for 112. Murray took five and David Court four in another fine team performance. The side therefore came third, a just position for a squad that were sensible both on and off the field and one that made themselves into quite a potent force and one that can look forward to next season although there is still an urgent need for a finger spinner.
David Manning led the side well and although he was not as consistent as normal with the bat had another good season behind the stumps. David is the ideal man to have at the helm as through rough and smooth he always looks on the bright side. His cheery personality was stamped all over the side. He was well assisted by Simon Edwards and David Court.
Festival tankards were awarded to Ben Elphick and Thami Kekana - Batting, Bryn Latchem - Bowling, David Court - Allrounder and Peter Fraser - Fielding
My annual thanks go out to the Devon Society of Umpires for their exceptional efficiency in providing Umpires of the highest quality and especially festival Umpire 'Monty' Thorns who for the second year running was very much a part of the squad; the coaches who helped prepare the squad; the host clubs Axminster and Bovey Tracey for splendid facilities and teas; Hiley and Sue Edwards for the exceptional way they again looked after the Isle of Wight festival squad with Sue again undertaking responsibilities far above her duty!!; Margaret Manning for assisting with the scoring and the regular scorer who completed yet another hectic year. Finally once again invaluable financial support was received from the Devon County Cricket Club and the Cricket Foundation.